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APIA, Samoa (January 26, 2002 - Samoa Observer/PINA Nius Online)---The number of Samoan college graduates fell 15 percent last year, Assistant Secretary of the Public Service Commission Valovalo Tusani confirmed.

Mr. Tusani, who heads the commission’s Human Resource Management division, said the main reason is the 2000 coup in Fiji, where many Samoans pursue tertiary education.

"The majority of Samoan students had to return to Samoa," he said. "Students who could afford it went to universities in New Zealand to complete their studies."

He said numbers are expected to pick up again at the end of this year, "with the proviso Fiji doesn’t face any more political instability," he said.

Fifty-seven graduates have been placed in employment for 2002, with most in public service jobs, such as teaching, four percent in government corporations and five percent in the private sector, Mr. Tusani said.

He said that the government had moved away from bonding students who were on government scholarships to government jobs.

"Partnership for a prosperous society is the stand the government is taking," he said.

"Students have the choice of where they serve their bonds," he said. "They can work in government or private sector."

All students were expected, however, to serve their bond periods in Samoa.

Key areas that have been developed are health, education, agriculture, forestry, fisheries and meteorology.

He said there were always low numbers of graduates with technical backgrounds. Looking at what areas needed workers Mr. Tusani said: "Civil engineers in all fields."

According to Mr Tusani, students generally take the courses they want.

He said this was one of the reasons for the high number of students taking arts courses.

For additional reports from the Samoa Observer, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Samoa Observer.

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