Cabinet endorses Maritime schools merger, Minister says

The Samoa Shipping Corporation Maritime Academy and the National University of Samoa’s (N.U.S.) School of Maritime are to be merged.

The decision has been endorsed by Cabinet.

It was confirmed by the Minister of Education, Sports and Culture, Loau Keneti Sio, in response to questions from the Samoa Observer.

"The first reason (for the merge) is the increase in the knowledge of our seafarers," said Loau.

"T he Samoa Shipping School focuses mainly on our domestic vessels but there is an opportunity for those students to expand their knowledge and have overseas opportunities available to them.”

The merger will also save money and resources, said the Cabinet Minister.

“We want to utilise the resources well so that the lecturers and teachers can be centered in one place that the students can learn from."

Loau said Cabinet made the decision after a study looked into the benefits and cons of the merge.

The decision by Cabinet is welcomed by the N.U.S. Head of Maritime School, Va'aelua Sonny Brown.

"This is a very important decision because only the N.U.S. school is included in the 'White List' which enables them to work abroad," he said.

The International Maritime Organisation (I.M.O.) maintains a “White List.”

It is a list of countries who have been endorsed by the I.M.O.’s Maritime Safety Committee (M.S.C.) to be following the relevant provisions of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1978.

"Having one school makes it easier for programmes to be executed,” said Vaaeulua.

“That way all maritime students can learn together from maritime expertise so that they are focused on a specific group to enable development like schools in Fiji, Australia and New Zealand." 

He added that with separate schools, there is “no sense of unity."

Va'aelua reiterated that with the merge, the focus would be directly on producing better students who are ready for the industry when they graduate.

"Another important thing is that the N.U.S. are qualified people who are able to review the curriculum,” he said.

"Our focus is to be on the kind of level Fiji is on and so the first challenge is to get to that level and then eventually going onto the level of NZ and Australian schools, and this merge makes it easier."

More than 500 Samoan men and women are employed overseas and locally with most of those employed overseas getting on cargo boats and cruise ships.

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