Students give their take on TALOFAPass in Young Writers Essays
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Three students zeroed in on the effectiveness of the government’s TALOFAPass websystem as part of the Department of Education’s Young Writers Essay Contest for the month of November.
The Curriculum and Instruction Division of the DOE submitted nine essays for publication in Samoa News from students in public and private schools; and three of the students’ work that were submitted highlighted the TALOFAPass.
Two of the students pointed to the system as being problematic due to the challenges it presented for those who are not tech savvy, but overall said the process was beneficial to American Samoa. A third student noted in their essay that the process was time consuming and allowed the government to “defraud” the public.
DAIHARD PUEGA — NUUULI VOCTECH HIGH SCHOOL
Daihard Puega of Nuuuli, a senior at Nuuuli VocTech High School, Grade 12, said TALOFAPass is the American Samoa Government’s approval process for an individual to enter American Samoa, at the time of the pandemic.
“The appropriate government agency reviews all documents submitted. While the system is intended to protect residents, not everyone in American Samoa agrees with the system, particularly the manner on how it is being implemented,” Puega's essay says.
“I believe that the Talofa Pass system is effective,” she stated.
“However, there are flaws in the system that need to be modified, to suit the changing times, public health improvements, and now that all other parts of the world have eased travel requirements, even if the pandemic is not officially over yet.”
Furthermore Puega said the TALOFAPass is advantageous in a variety of ways; it measures the safety of the individual traveling.
“Not only that but ensuring the safety of people and citizens in the country to which he or she is traveling.
“However, applying for a Talofa Pass may be challenging for those getting a hang of the growth and development of technology.
“It may be a difficult process for those who are in a hurry and need to leave the island in the blink of an eye due to family emergencies.
“To my knowledge, the Talofa Pass protects our island from any mishaps in the future. Based on my experience with friends and family members, they have expressed that they have no problems with Talofa Pass.
“It’s been a way that not only ensures the safety and health measures of those who reside in American Samoa.
“In addition, it also protects the well-being of those who are coming to the island because they update their vaccinations as well as their papers.
“Miscommunications and delays of the process of the Talofa Pass are what I believe is bringing this process to a disadvantage. However, it all depends on the people or person that is traveling off-island. Talofa Pass has always been a part of the Lemanu-Talauega Administration’s larger vision and was a successful solution in response to the repatriation and quarantine period.
“They will also no longer have to show proof that they have been vaccinated against COVID before entering the territory.”
According to Puega the TALOFAPass was supported by the Dept. of Health (DoH) so they can keep track of the people coming into American Samoa.
“Moving the American Samoa government away from fragmented manual processes and toward e-government and more streamlined, paperless system are included in this vision and transition. Travelers to American Samoa will no longer be required to obtain Talofa Pass approval from the Department of Health and Legal Affairs to enter the country.
“The Talofa Pass fulfilled its intended purpose for COVID travel, despite obstacles and areas for improvement.
“In addition, it has emphasized the necessity for government agencies to improve data collection, foster departmental collaboration, and enhance the experience of returning residents and visitors to our Territory.
“Providing safe travel protocols, quarantine tracking, and contact tracing when the right opportunity arose allowed American Samoa to move further into the digital age. What other states and territories have developed to integrate government operations during a pandemic serves as an example of technology innovation at work.
“This development puts us ahead of our time and originated in American Samoa. Together, we have made a lot of progress in eradicating this virus. Over the past few months, key areas of our data, such as new COVID-19 cases and hospitalization, have shown significant decreases.
“As a result, we have been able to lift significant restrictions and proceed with Talofa Pass with our most significant reopening steps.”
ARIANNA TAATASI — SAMOANA HIGH SCHOOL
A senior at Samoana High School, Arianna Taatasi questioned the effectiveness of the TALOFAPass.
She said traveling is one of the aspects of global normalcy that has changed significantly since COVID-19.
“The majority, if not all, governments and nations closed their borders to prevent the coronavirus from spreading within their borders.
“For the same reason, American Samoa closed its borders up until the government proposed the Talofa Pass as a way to ease travel restrictions.
“Travelers must use a system known as the Talofa Pass to request authorization to cross the border into or out of American Samoa.
“The island is impacted by the Talofa Pass in both positive and negative ways.”
Taatasi pointed out that since the implementation of COVID-19, American Samoa has become a tiny island with severe resource limitations.
“The Talofa Pass system has benefits in that it ensures public safety. When the Talofa Pass system is functioning properly, the island is well protected since it screens away individuals who have Coronavirus infections and symptoms.
“Another positive effect that the Talofa Pass has introduced to American Samoa is that it limits the amount of people entering the borders.
“Limiting the amount of people entering the island is an advantage because it maintains control over the disease. Although the Talofa Pass has some advantages, the drawbacks outweigh them.”
Taatasi further pointed out the TALOFAPass system’s downside is that the procedure is time-consuming, but pointless.
“The Talofa Pass was alleged to be another way the government was making money unlawfully by the public in a variety of complaints.
“Whether or not you have paid for your airline fare, the Talofa Pass board members have the authority to invalidate it.
“This is one of the key issues that leads to a lot of people losing money inexplicably. Having said that, the Talofa Pass s system has a problem in that it not only defrauds the public but also takes can excessively lengthy time.”
Taatasi concluded that in many countries, including American Samoa, they’re obliged to seal their borders as a result of the Coronavirus.
“American Samoa created a system called the Talofa Pass to make travel easier. Travelers to and from American Samoa are subject to approval under the Talofa Pass system. This system has both benefits and drawbacks, however the Talofa Pass’ drawbacks outweigh its benefits.”
AYDEN ATAFUA — TAFUNA HIGH SCHOOL
The third student who zeroed in on the effectiveness of the TALOFAPass was Ayden Atafua a senior at Tafuna High School.
According to Atafua, even though COVID cases are now at a manageable rate, he still believes that the TALOFAPass system is effective as it can be used for contact tracing.
“Contact tracing is a tool that public health uses to identify and notify people who may have been exposed to someone with an infectious disease.
“If there is ever a new disease that spreads around the world, our Talofa Pass system could be used again to track it.
“There are some mixed feelings about Talofa Pass but I believe it is because it is still a new program for our island.
“Once we are familiar with how Talofa Pass works and how it can be used as a tool, I think those feelings might change.”
He said more people would feel comfortable using the system.
“To ensure safety, we can use Talofa Pass to track travelers to avoid any danger. Although I think the Talofa Pass is effective, I think that there can be some improvements made in order to make the process easier for people to use.
“One example can be to have a local office that assists those who are not technologically savvy.
“Since the system is still new, some people are still not comfortable with using online applications. Another way the system can be improved is to have a call line that can assist with questions about the Talofa Pass.
“I think these improvements can help our people use the system with ease,” he stated.