The truth is staring at us unblinkingly

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

Poor Aeau Chris Hazelman! The Director of Catholic Education has done the honourable thing by apologising for the ugly behaviour of certain students in relation to the violence we’ve been seeing around town

But he didn’t have to. It’s not his fault – or that of the education system – that these young people are behaving like possessed madmen. 

Don’t get us wrong. We accept that schools do have a part to play and interschool rivalry is a contributing factor. 

But folks, let’s get one thing straight here and now, 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.

Let me explain. The teachers – and the education system for that matter – should be slammed when students fail at school. That’s simply because it is their job to ensure the students pass their exams. 

So if the school system keeps producing dumb students, we should question the teachers. That’s placing the blame where it should be.

But to frown upon teachers and the education system because of the ongoing interschool violence in Apia is wrong and it should be stopped. 

Let’s be reminded here that charity begins at home. In other words, if a young boy or girl is raised by parents and guardians to respect others and the law at home, they are more likely to grow up and never forget those lessons. 

For far too long, every time the issue of violence and poor behavior among students surfaces, we are very quick to blame the schools, teachers, sports and everything else. Some of the blame is justified. 

But most times, we miss the mark. 

We never stop to point the finger at ourselves. 

What are we doing about it? 

How are we contributing to it?

What influence are those violent movies on TV having on these students? 

What about stories in newspapers that seem to glorify wrongdoing and bad behaviour? 

Interestingly, the so-called new dynamic in the violence of today is the internet and mobile phones. 

Who allowed these technological advances into Samoa? 

Who is the genius who came up with the idea to free up the telecommunication sector so that now everyone has access to Facebook, YouTube and all other social sites? 

Whose fault is it that our people are ill prepared and often abuse these tools because they weren’t properly equipped about its pros and cons in the first place?

Ladies and gentlemen, the teachers and the education system cannot be blamed for these. These are societal ills. It is a failure on the part of the system we have.

We are all responsible. I am responsible, you are responsible, the leaders are responsible; we all have a role to play. 

Speaking of roles and responsibilities, the truth is staring us unblinkingly in the face. Unemployment in this country is a menace.

Many young people fresh out of college are falling through the cracks. They neither have jobs nor have the ability to pursue further studies. Incidentally, these are the ones that have been identified as the instigators of some of the recent violence.

Who is responsible for these young people? Is there a future for them at all? Or are we seeing the beginning of an uprising in Samoa that could get only uglier?

Some of the footage we’ve seen from those fights send shivers down the spine. They are scary to look at.

The reality is that there are simply far too many school leavers with very few job opportunities available for them. These young people now have nothing to do but dream up the next fight, the next big YouTube video. They are just roaming up and down the streets looking for trouble.

We agree that they are a bunch of idiots. But those idiots are part of us, they are Samoans, this community raised them up?

So what are we to do? Where do we go from here?

Firstly, we need to go back to the basics in terms of our family values. We need to get back to where we started off where young people are taught about respect and love in our aigas.

Then we need to think about why these things are happening.

The link between unemployment and the increase in criminal activities has been well documented. And we don’t need further proof. It’s happening in Samoa. It will only get worse.

Ultimately, it comes down to the government and its ability to create jobs for the young people falling through the cracks after college. The private sector also has a large role to play. 

Indeed, we cannot stress enough the importance of the partnership between the government and the private sector. The idea is that the Government must provide an environment that’s conducive for the private sector to grow and offer more employment opportunities. 

Needless to say, unemployment is a menace we can do without. 

But it will not go away until the Government does something to address it. At the moment, we don’t see anything at all. And that’s the nagging truth. It’s undeniable.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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