When the poor suffer in silence

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Dear Editor,

Re: ‘No hope,’ says child vendor

If this story doesn’t infuriate Samoa, then Samoa is completely lost. 

They’re numb, blind and deaf to the plight of the poor and those who are struggling to feed and care for their families. 

These people are screaming out for help and no one hears them. They suffer in silence because they have no one and nowhere to go for assistance. 

They do the only thing they know to do, the streets. There is so much that is sick with Samoa’s society. There are several issues just in this article alone:

 

#1.....School Fees.....why are there fees at all? The billion dollar debt would be an easy pill to swallow if part of the reason was to make school for all, free.

This problem is not a new problem, in fact, a report with the cooperation of the Ministry of Education called, The Samoa School Fees Grant Scheme Report, dated May 5, 2010 addressed this very issue. Here are their findings, (page 4-5, section “Out-of-School Children”):

“...............A survey of schools suggests that more effort may be required to keep children in schools as parents face increasing difficulty in meeting schools costs (including fees). As noted above, there is clear evidence that many families are having difficulty paying school fees and, as expected, the problem is more apparent at those schools with higher fees scales. Every school in the survey had a significant percentage of children who have difficulties paying fees – reflected by lateness of payment, non payment, high absenteeism or tardiness in attendance, or an increase in the number of dropouts. The percentages range from 1.1% to 11% for the large schools (populations between 750 and 1300) and from 1.5% to 31% for schools of moderate sizes (250- 450).

Substantial evidence shows that the payment of fees has been a big barrier to schooling and had resulted in children not attending school, but it is also probable that even with the non payment of fees, some children may still not attend school. The SSFGS program will attempt to identify and quantify the impact of other influences which may still prevent children from attending school. A survey to determine this will be carried out and in the event that the findings point towards a reassessment of the initial funding formula to address the specific needs of those vulnerable children and in the schools with the most urgent needs, this will be done.”

They were aware of the problem back then, yet it continues to persist today, 2016. They speak of “efforts”, my question is, what efforts? Where are the accomplishments as proof anything’s been done or addressed since? What improvements have they made since 2010? This is 2016 and it appears the problem has fallen on deaf ears and the problem seems to have exacerbated given the numerous incidents we read or witness daily.

Note, the population in 2010 was 193,001, 2011 was 193,161 and current count for 2016 at 193,545. In fact, the number of the population residing in the rural area grew, while the urban area declined, from 2010 to 2015. It doesn’t appear the government had to contend with a massive population explosion, rendering it financially incapable of eliminating all school fees. What’s the problem? And with the majority of the population concentrated in the rural area of the country, why is the government not addressing the core problem of the majority and their plight, Poverty?

 

#2)  The working poor... and minimum wage. A job and still not enough to take care of their families. It’s appalling, indignant and degrading.

 

#3) Children on the streets ... who are susceptible to sexual predators and presenting a problem with a generation of abused children. Are these children not included as part of the future of Samoa? Or are they the lost children of Samoa?

You don’t care Samoa...what a shame! 

Your actions or non-action speaks for itself.

 

Stella M


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