Samoa Parents Unhappy With New Public School Hours

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Claim government did not bother consulting with families

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, July 23, 2013) – The new finishing times for schools approved by Cabinet last week has not gone down too well with some parents in Samoa.

In fact, they say the idea should have been put to a vote so that everyone can have their say.

Speaking to the Samoa Observer yesterday, Sasa’e Matautia, of Malaemalu Falealili called on Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi to reconsider.

"What is really sad," she said, "is that it seems like the government can now do anything they want without asking for our opinion.

"I think the Prime Minister needs to remember that as members of the public, we too have a say in these matters. This country is founded on God and everyone’s opinion should be consulted."

During the weekend, Cabinet announced the new finishing times for all Government schools.

For primary schools:

For high schools and Colleges:

The changes will become effective in Term 3. The reasons given by Cabinet for the change include:

Mrs. Matautia said the time being used for schools now is more than enough to accomplish the above goals.

"What I find very sad is the attitude from the government that says we either take it or leave it. There was no consultation about this change.

They’ve just changed the laws without consulting anybody about it.

"Yet what they don't know is that these changes will affect families in a very bad way."

Mrs. Matautia is worried that students are already spending more time away from home.

"What this means is that our kids will be away from home for the rest of the day," she said.

"How can we find quality time with our kids so they can listen to us. What time will we have to teach them about proper manners and the fa’asamoa?

"When our kids do bad things in school, the blame is always on us. But now it’s going to get worse because we don't have any time with them."

For Mrs. Matautia, her day starts at 4am when she prepares her young ones for school.

"What the new times now mean is that I part with my kids at 6am and I won't see them until 5pm," she said. "That is very sad."

Opeta Tautotogi, of Solosolo, shares Mrs. Matautia’s frustrations.

"The students will finish at the same time as workers," she said. "In terms of public transportation, it means they will have to fight with the elders to get on the bus to get home.

"Most buses in the rural areas set up their own time of transportation. If these are new finishing times, many of them will have to find somewhere to sleep in the town area."

"On the other hand, it will be an excuse for other kids to get up to no good. They will tell their parents that they’re late because of school and yet they’re doing something completely different."

'What I find very sad is the attitude from the government that says we either take it or leave it. There was no consultation about this change. They’ve just changed the laws without consulting anybody about it.' - Sasa'e Matautia

Like Mrs. Matautia, Mrs. Tautotogi said the issue should have been put to a vote.

"I just wonder if the government does any survey to see if people agree or disagree about their policies? It seems to me that they’re now doing whatever they like.

"What’s next? Will they tell us what we can and cannot do during the day? These changes are very sad."

Both Mrs. Matautia and Mrs. Tautotogi were asked about taking their children to a nearby school to avoid the transportation issue, but Mrs. Matautia was not pleased.

"I want my kids to get a good education just like most parents living in Apia," she said. "For your information, there is a big difference between schools in the rural areas and the ones in town.

"I’d rather spend my money to bring my children to study in Apia to get a good education than to waste it on feeding teachers in the village who don't perform as well as they should."

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