Avele deserves another chance

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

There is no doubt about it. Even if it’s the absolute last chance Avele gets to make amends for the wrongs of the past, the school deserves it as much as some other schools have been given the benefit of the doubt over the years. 

Without condoning the behavior of the students, which has led to the closure of the school, we believe the government owes it to about ninety-five per cent of the school’s roll to give them one more chance. 

It is the most appropriate thing to do. 

The fact of the matter is that the government has made its stance very clear. By closing the school, lambasting the staff, old pupils and the Principal in public, it has sent out an emphatic message that it will no longer tolerate the silly behavior by some students. 

But now, Prime Minister Tuilaepa and his Cabinet must do the right. They must reopen the school to allow the teachers and students to fulfill their roles. That is for the teachers to impart knowledge while students learn what they need for a better future. Anything less will not just be a disservice to Avele College and everyone else involved with the school but also to education in this country.

We say this because we know Avele is not the only school that has been involved in these fights. Should the government continue to toe the line they have taken, what happens if other schools fight next week? 

Will they all be closed indefinitely too? Should that be the case, we might soon find that all schools in Samoa shut. That’s surely a future nobody wants.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi gave Avele College an ultimatum. He wanted an undertaking from them that the unruly behavior shown by some of their students in the past – including threats and whatnot - will not be repeated.

According to Prime Minister Tuilaepa, unless Avele College could guarantee that the behavior of the students will change, the school could well be closed permanently. 

Speaking to the media afterwards, Tuilaepa said he has told the old pupils of Avele and teachers to prepare and sign a proposal outlining their agreement. 

From the sound of things, Prime Minister Tuilaepa has resigned himself to the possibility that the school could be closed for good.

“If it’s closed (permanently) it means that the boys and girls will attend other colleges nearest to their homes to continue their studies,” he said. “If it opens again, it will be the final. If anything else happens then that’s it.”

If our humble opinion was sought, we’d prefer the latter. 

The school has suffered already. A week or two weeks of no school is a severe punishment for the bad behavior of a few. Yes, we’ve got to remember that of the entire school population, only a few students were involved. The rest of the student population had nothing to do with what had led to the closure of the school and those are the students that we must consider. They are the innocent victims in all this.

It’s a pity that because of the misbehaviour of a few, the chance of an education for the majority of well-mannered students at Avele has been removed from them. 

We’ve said this before and we will say again now; it is not the school’s fault that some of these young people are behaving like possessed madmen. We accept that schools do have a part to play and interschool rivalry is a contributing factor. 

But attitudes and behaviours are shaped at home. 

Which means that if students misbehave, it’s not entirely correct for society to blame the teachers and the schools. 

We believe it’s the parents who should be held accountable. 

The churches and villages too should take the blame to some extent. We say this because this is where morals and values are taught and nurtured.

Interschool violence is an issue of morals and values. It’s a behavioral issue and we must place the blame squarely on where it should be. 

Avele College deserves another chance. And let’s be reminded here and now that two wrongs don’t make a right. Think about it.

Have a wonderful weekend Samoa, God bless!

 

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