L.D.S. looks to improve education

By Sarafina Sanerivi ,

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(Front row) Elder Cliff Vellinga and Sister Kathy Vellinga of L.D.S. Charities. (Back row) John McLean (Trustee of Furniture for Schools), Bruce McCarthy, Manager of Self Reliance, Callum Blair and Sapele Fa’alogo, Director of Public Affairs L.D.S.

(Front row) Elder Cliff Vellinga and Sister Kathy Vellinga of L.D.S. Charities. (Back row) John McLean (Trustee of Furniture for Schools), Bruce McCarthy, Manager of Self Reliance, Callum Blair and Sapele Fa’alogo, Director of Public Affairs L.D.S. (Photo: Misiona Simo)

Raising the level of education in Samoa has now become the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ main priority. 

In doing so, the church has partnered with government ministries and Non Governmental Organizations to lift educational standards across the region. 

The church owns and maintains 15 schools in Samoa, Tonga, Fiji and Kiribati. It also holds regular after-school tutoring programmes in Vanuatu, among the other education-based initiatives across the South Pacific. This week, John McLean and Callum Blair from one of their partners from Furniture for Schools Charitable Trust in New Zealand,  are in the country to survey the impact of donated school equipment and supplies. 

During a Press Conference held on Friday, John McLean, one of the Trustee of Furniture for Schools said the main aim is to improve education in Samoa. 

The Furniture for Schools Charitable Trust ships educational equipments, books, and other supplies from New Zealand to various islands in the Pacific. The loading and unloading of shipping containers are done by the L.D.S. before donations are delivered to school.

“The charity was established around about two years ago and it has legal status in New Zealand,” said Mr. McLean.

“Its primary aim is to take the furniture which is donated by the schools in New Zealand, generally public schools, sometimes private schools. 

“And look to basically pick up the furniture and bring it to the island schools where perhaps they don’t have the same facilities or equipment we in New Zealand have. “So to simplify it, it’s a gift of furniture from a group of children to another group of children in another part of the world.”

He also believes that this is a wonderful gesture by the parents, the children and the schools in New Zealand.

“It’s wonderful because it benefits the lives of many, many children here in Samoa.”

Moreover, McLean said he is happy to be in Samoa and to see how these help with the children’s education in Samoa.  

“It’s lovely to come here after two years. I have heard all about the wonderful things that are being done and it’s lovely to be here and mixing with nice people and seeing the end result.”

McLean went on to say that the help will go to where the need is greatest. “That’s where it will go. And the people here will make sure that they have targeted the right schools after they’ve talked to the education department. 

“The Education Department in Samoa has been very careful as to which schools are deserving of the next furniture. 

“Having said that, we do have another 24 containers on the water right now, somewhere between Auckland and Suva and that will be arriving very shortly. We’d like to think that it goes to wherever the need is greatest.”

Last month the Pacific Area Presidency of the Church released a video which outlines Latter-day Saint principles and efforts with respect to lifting educational aspirations and achievement across the region. 

In the video, the Church leaders spoke about a new resource called, “Success in School begins at Home,” which is available for students, teachers and parents throughout the South Pacific. 

Copies of the booklet can be requested through local Latter-day Saint leaders. It is also available on line at Pacific.LDS.org in English, Samoan, Tongan, French, Tahitian, Fijian, Bislama, Kiribati and Marshallese languages.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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