Link: Pacific Islands Report
Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i


Samoan Parents Not As Excited For School As Students
Some struggling to pay for school supplies, registration fees

By Lanuola Tupufia

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Jan. 30, 2013) – While thousands of children in Samoa couldn't wait to return to their classrooms yesterday, for many parents it wasn't as exciting.

Yesterday was the culmination of weeks of struggles and headaches to find the money for new uniforms, registrations and school fees.

Although the free education scheme has somewhat helped, for many parents, the beginning of the school year is a tough time.

Sefo Simi, father from Falefa and Faleapuna, is one of the many parents who voiced their concerns about the cost of preparations for back to school.

"I won’t deny my children the opportunity to attend school but I have to say it is a costly process," he said. "It’s money that many parents don't have."

The father of four from Falefa is a fisherman and a farmer. He is the sole provider for his family.

"I thank the government for the initiative of free education that reduces the financial burden on us parents, but even though it’s called free education – I believe that no education is for free without any cost.

"I say this because we still have to buy text books, pencils, uniforms, school fees for college students, transportation and lunch and those are not for free.

"I fish everyday and work my plantation so I can save enough to give my children the education that some of us weren’t fortunate enough to have."

[PIR editor’s note: Meanwhile, US$12 million worth of damage to schools around the nation in the wake of Cyclone Evan remains. Construction work for schools to be completely rebuilt has not yet begun because government has yet to finalize costs and see what kind of donor aid will be provided.]

Mr. Simi has two sons who attend St. Joseph’s College and two daughters who go to Falefa primary.

"When you add the uniforms, the stationery and all the little items, it costs quite a lot."

Sina Lemapu, of Vailoa, knows the feeling. The mother of five children says the cost to prepare one child easily exceeds WST$100 [US$42.36].

"For one child, the uniform costs about WST$80 [US$33.89] but that is for one uniform," she said. "You know our children they need at least four uniforms to for each day of the week so at the moment I have to carefully divide that money amongst my five children.

"Maybe I can buy other sets of uniform later on but at the mean time I would have to get one or two for each of them to make sure they still can attend school."

Mrs. Lemapu pointed out additional expenses, such as registration fees and PTA fees, among others, all add up.

"Although it’s free education, we still have to pay for those things," she said. But there is a solution to all this. Aniga Pesamino, of Vaitele, said having one child helps a lot. Her son is attending Apia Primary. "He’s ready to go to school now," she said. "I hope he learns a lot on his first year in school."

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