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By Keni Ramese Lesa

APIA, Samoa (November 12, 2000 - Samoa Observer/PINA Nius Online)--- More than 20 principals of the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints (LDS) schools from around the Pacific region are meeting in Apia instead of Fiji, as originally scheduled.

The LDS meeting is the latest of a series of regional events that have been moved to Samoa because of the circumstances in Fiji since the May 19 coup.

According to the principal of the Church College of Western Samoa (CCWS), Mr. Sonny Aiono, the meeting is being held to discuss issues pertaining to the development and improvement of LDS schools around the region.

"We’re particularly here to discuss issues about how to improve education in the Pacific, review progress made by each country and share experiences on how we could develop our leadership skills," Mr. Aiono explained.

"From Samoa’s perspective, we’ll be looking at learning new skills, adopting new tactics and hopefully learn from the experiences of other participants."

He said the Samoan LDS schools have created an adaptable system whereby students enjoy their learning environment. One of the highlights is the Transition to Work Program, when the school seeks part-time jobs for the students involved.

While many students strive for the best in exams, the Transition to Work Program offers students an alternative route to attaining their goals, through work experience.

The Transition to Work Program has presented a number of Church College of Western Samoa students with employment opportunities within the community.

Currently, Church College of Western Samoa has an enrollment of 700 students and the LDS Primary School has a roll of 600.

Two Fijian school principals, Mrs. Elizabeth Sikivou and Mrs. Talica Malani, were asked to comment on the status of education in Fiji after the political unrest in May.

Although it may take a while for the system to find its rhythm again, Mrs. Sikivou said everything was back to normal in Fiji

"The political problem has already taken its toll on the education system," Mrs. Sikivou commented. "After the coup we and a lot of teachers from around Fiji had to work extended hours to catch up with what students had missed out on."

Mrs. Sikivou told the Samoa Observer that the coup has had serious psychological effects on many students, and it will take a while for them to recover. She said that LDS schools were gradually improving with a lot of help and support from other church branches.

She felt that the regional meeting was necessary in order to help the church education system move forward in the right direction.

Mrs. Malani shared these views. She said that there was no need for Fiji to dwell on what had happened. Instead, she said, many positive thinking people are needed to get the system back on track.

Mrs. Malani told the Samoa Observer that she is thankful because LDS schools in Fiji have adequate facilities, which makes their job a lot easier. However, she added that clearing students’ minds of what had happened would be a lengthy process.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: 

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