Samoa Schools Reconcile; Social Media Blamed For Fights

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Ava ceremony ‘too late’ as cabinet closes Avele College ‘indefinitely’

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, Samoa (Talamua, May 3, 2016) – The reconciliation this morning between Avele College and Maluafou College where the two principals, teachers and prefects were hosted in a ava ceremony by Maluafou College came too late for Cabinets decision to close Avele indefinitely and the principal and teachers suspended until further notice due to continued student violence.

The two principals, Alasi Tavae of Maluafou and Matafeo Reupena of Avele blamed the social media for inciting messages posted by students and say they will approach the mobile telephone companies in monitoring the social media, especially the school pages created by students as an avenue for intimidating other students.

Speaking to the media after the schools reconciled, Matafeo Reupena Alasi Tavae blamed the social media as the main culprit for the fights between schools.

The principals agreed that whilst there are many factors contributing to school fights, social media is the main cause of difference and fights amongst schools.

Matafeo believes that 99.9% of the trouble and problems are from the social media.

"That is why we do not allow students to bring mobile phones to school, because of these kinds of problems," said Matafeo.

He wished they could control the social media and have taken the initiative to approach the main mobile telephone operators to work out something, to screen what is posted on the school pages created by some students.

"We only control them from 8.00am to 4.00pm, and after that, it is out of our control," said Matafeo.

Avele and Maluafou Colleges reconcile

After almost 2 weeks of fighting, Avele and Malufou college principals, staff and prefects came together to patch things up, however, the concern that the social media is still intimidating students, is still a threat.

The reconciliation was initiated by the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture (MESC) Afamasaga Dr. Karoline Fuatai, and the Director of the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa Education, Reverend Vavatau Taufao.

Avele is a Government school whilst Maluafou, is one of the longest serving school of CCCS.

The reconciliation started with a welcoming ava ceremony conducted by Maluafou college on their campus, followed by a long speeches between Avele and Maluafou staff, on who should deliver the official speech of the day.

Avele principal Matafeo Reupena Matafeo in receiving his ava said "Maluafou and Avele do not teach any subjects on fighting, and we advise you to fight for intelligence," said Matafeo.

He challenged the students to fight for a chance at the University so they could get a better life, not only for themselves, but for their families.

Reverend Vavatau reiterated the importance of Matafeo’s words, and apologized for Maluafou’s part in the fight.

Malufou Principal Alasi Tavae said, school fights has been an ongoing problem and is "growing like a sore."

Closing the gap

CCCS Director of Education Reverend Vavatau urged both schools to "close the gap that we created" and concentrate on learning.

"We do not want to terminate you from school," he said.

He said in almost every school fights, principal and staff names are the first ones that come up in any complaint, but there was no truth in that.

He said the reason why only prefects were invited to sit in the reconciliation, is because they have been entrusted with the responsibility to lead as examples for the schools.

"We want you to close the gap we created and become one, so we can live in harmony and peacefully," said the Director.

Maluafou College reopens tomorrow while Avele College has been closed indefinitely by Cabinet and Principal and teachers suspended.

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