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APIA, Samoa (April 24, 2002 - Samoa Observer/PINA Nius Online)---Samoa Polytechnic is developing a unique pilot program that it expects to form the basis for small business studies via correspondence in the Pacific.

At a conference in Wellington, senior business lecturer Tertia Stunzner-Ryan presented a paper detailing the pilot program entitled: "Adapting an Open Learning Package on Small Business for the Needs of Samoa."

The pilot program is a response to a joint initiative of the Commonwealth of Learning and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The goal is to prepare a small business instructional package that will target individual communities by reflecting their specific needs.

"If we're successful, then other Pacific Islands will use our model," Mrs. Stunzner-Ryan said.

Many of those benefiting from the pilot program will be mothers who have had little time or opportunity to study, school leavers and small business owners.

"Distance education provides people with alternative avenues to education. It gives opportunities to those people with little time and people living in remote locations," she said.

More than 200 education professionals attended the DEANZ (Distance Education Association of New Zealand) conference, where Mrs. Stunzner-Ryan spoke about the project.

"I was honored to be the only Pacific Islander invited to present a paper," she said. "It was a great opportunity to highlight the benefits of the program to our village communities.

"The initial stage of the pilot project involved working with local trainers and getting their feedback on areas of the Learning about Small Business curriculum package designed by the Open Polytechnic New Zealand, that need to be changed to suit Samoa's purposes."

The second phase of the project uses the knowledge of small business owners in various villages throughout Samoa.

"We are working with small business owners involved in retail, handicraft, fishing and agriculture. "

The course material will be tested in the villages and the content of the course will be adapted to further suit the needs expressed by potential and current small business people.

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

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