The key to a country’s prosperity is to create jobs. It’s that simple

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

We’ve said it time and time again. The people of this country need jobs and plenty of them. 

On top of that, something has to be done to change this ridiculous minimum wage of $2.30 an hour. It’s daylight robbery, if you ask me.

The high unemployment rate coupled with the skyrocketing cost of living and the low wages for the few people who have formal jobs is making life miserable for far too many people in Samoa.

The struggles and hardships is a recurring theme we keep reading about every day. Indeed, not a single day goes by without people of this country crying out for help to cushion the blows inflicted by this menace called the cost of living.

Now look at today’s Village Voice for instance. The story of 61-year-old Silaumua Leitu is typical.

 “The imbalance between the minimum wages and the prices of everything is wide, people have no other choice but end up stealing and committing crimes and many will be left struggling,” she said.

 “The cost of living is getting too high for many of the families here in Samoa. I have noticed prices for `some everyday goods being raised to the point where it’s hard to afford them.

“It’s hard because people in Samoa don’t get paid well enough to afford many things. And if the prices continue to increase then people will encourage doing other things to get what they want. 

“Some will be forced to steal, some will force to kill others and families will be forced to sell their lands and even homes to try and live.” 

Silaumua is not alone. If you take the time to talk to normal people on the streets, they will tell you the same thing.

Their plight highlights the core challenges of low wages, lack of revenue generating opportunities and ultimately the lack of jobs. 

It’s a vicious cycle and despite the noises being made about it, we don’t seem to be making much progress.

The only consolation – and thank God for it – are the opportunities for our people to find work in seasonal employment schemes offered by friends of Samoa in the form of New Zealand and Australia. 

American Samoa too has been helping us for many years with jobs at the canneries. It is frightening to imagine what would happen if it were not for these schemes. The truth is, these schemes are critical in sustaining the economy as we know it. Without remittances and aid, we would be in deep, deep trouble. That is guaranteed.

The reality on the ground is bad. In Samoa today, there are far too many able-bodied young people roaming the streets doing nothing. They are hanging around corners of shops and congregating on the side of the road with some of them looking like they are high and drugged up. 

They are a time bomb waiting to go off. And more often than not, these young people end up committing unthinkable crimes since they have nothing else to get excited about.

But our problems go much deeper than that. Many children who are supposed to be learning to count at primary schools are not. 

How do we know? It’s simple. 

All you need to do is drive around downtown Apia and you’ll see that despite multiple laws to stop young kids from hawking goods on the streets, it’s having a very minimal impact. 

For most of these children and their families, their thinking is one of survival on a daily basis. It’s heartbreaking. 

Sadly, these young people are the types who do not get excited about the prospect of dreams and living a different life. The fact is that life today is so much more complicated than yesteryears. 

We are living in a time when education holds the key to a prosperous future.

Without an education, life is bleak.

The point is that parents must look to the future and see the bigger picture. And education plays such a vital part in that future. What they need to know is that without a decent education, life will continue to become a struggle. That without a good level of education, children cannot venture beyond their little world so that they will be stuck in that rut forever.

Education also gets them jobs. The reality is an educated job seeker who knows what they are looking for will always have a better chance of being employed as opposed to the one who is applying “for any vacancy” in any company. That is the product of education.

And whose responsibility is it to provide more jobs?

Well the government has a responsibility to provide an enabling environment for the private sector to thrive so that when they do, job opportunities are made available to everyone.  

Is that happening in Samoa today? 

You tell us!

Have a wonderful Friday Samoa, God bless!

© Samoa Observer 2016

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