Tuesday, 25 November 2008 4:10 AM

Samoa Passes Bill Promoting Compulsory Education

The Samoan government passed the Education Bill 2008 last week which will see parents and caregivers of children aged 5 to 14 fined $1,000 if they do not send their children to school.

As reported by the Samoa Observer Online, the 'penalty is spelt out under the clause "Compulsory school age children" of the bill which applies to children aged 5 to 14' and for 'each day after the initial fine for parents failing to get their child to school, an additional penalty of $100 will be imposed'.

'Allowing a child to be engaged in street trading or other work attracts a penalty of $5,000 against those caring for them'.

'No Member of Parliament who spoke on the bill yesterday was against compulsory education'.

Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Lupesoli'ai Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, 'said MPs have made speeches on compulsory education ever since he has been in Parliament' but he felt that "the heart of the difficulty is weak parents - weak of mind".

"No matter what government does about the problem it would fail unless there is a solution to the difficulty of the weak-minded."

However, an MP, Aeau Peniamina, 'blamed poverty for children not attending school and child labour, not "nutty" parents'.
According to the MP, a non-matai (non-chiefly) male's cultural obligations do not leave much time to look for money. Education drives people to Apia, Samoa's capital, and they then find that they cannot "get bread" without employment and thus, children are sent to sell goods on the streets.

The Prime Minister added that the bill is important since it 'pressures chiefs and orators who have the authority to put pressure on weak parents to send their children to school' and that 'the uneducated children will be the troublemakers of the future in villages if the matai do not address the problem now'.

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