The alarming number of students dropping out of school is an issue the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture is not taking lightly.
Last week the Samoa National Youth Council (S.N.Y.C.)’s Tracer Youth Employment Survey Report revealed statistics about school dropout rates.
The report says the school dropout rate for primary and secondary levels is a staggering 78.93%.
Education Minister Loau Keneti Sio said this matter is being addressed during Parliament this week.
According to the Minister, “M.E.S.C. and the Office of the Attorney General are in the process of discussing the review of the Education Act 2009 in particular the Compulsory Education provision to lift the leaving age from 14 years of age to 18.” He further noted there have been face-to-face meetings with School Committees.
This will provide home and community support for the Ministry's effort for Literacy and Numeracy activities.
The Minister further indicated there are on-going inter-ministry discussions with the Ministry of Women Community and Social Development for the support of the Pulenuu and sui-a-tamaitai in monitoring school attendance of compulsory aged students.
Additionally, there is a need to implement Christian values within families and villages, said Loau.
Member of Parliament Salausa Dr John Ah Ching supported the move by M.E.S.C. for compulsory education to be raised to 18 years of age.
“However, the government needs to consider some sort of financial assistance in relation to school fees.
“Many students have the opportunity to enter local universities however due to the expensive school tuition fees they end up dropping out of school due to the inability of their parents to pay for the school fees. Salausa, pointed to the funds available from the Samoa International Finance Authority (SIFA) that could offer some assistance to certain students.
“The main reasons for incomplete education are because families can no longer afford school fees, and others have taken on the role of caretakers for elderly and other family members,” says the report.
The report further notes that the majority of youth involved in income-generating activities are subsistence farmers, relying on agriculture and fishing to sell goods at the market or around their villages to provide for their families.