Measles, Pacific Games impact exam results

The Principal of Leifiifi College, Sifuiva Malaea Lauano, has blamed the measles epidemic and the time taken to prepare for the Pacific Games for the drop in the number of students from their school qualifying for the National University of Samoa's (N.U.S.) Foundation year.

The number has dropped from 69 last year to 64 this year. Two students from the College did not complete the Secondary Schools Leaving Certificate exams as they were overseas when the Government decided to resume the exams.

“So we have 64 that made it to U.P.Y. [University Preparatory Year] and 44 are eligible to enroll in other faculties [Technical Vocational Education Training] with remaining 28 being in doubt,” said Sifuiva. 

“There was a lot of interruption from the Pacific Games because the whole school was involved with the dances for the event. 

“We also had the measles outbreak and that affected some students who were overseas when we had the exams.” 

Despite the “slight” reduction in the number of students qualifying for N.U.S., the Principal is happy with the school's performance.

She pointed out the students attending Leifiifi College are mostly those who did not pass the entry exams to attend Samoa College and Avele College. 

“We take the ones that were left behind and were rejected by Avele and Samoa College,” she explained. 

“Although we still aim for Foundation but our main focus and target is the T.V.E.T. area and we are happy with that and the performance from our students for this year.”

Sifuiva said for most students who leave the College and are not able to continue their studies at the tertiary level, they leave with basic skills to setup their own businesses. 

“We have former students who have setup their own business of growing cabbage and selling printed lavalava,” she said. 

“Others are doing carpentry work and some have recorded their own CD and we are proud of them. All of this contribute to the economy of our country.”

She added, “we are mindful that some students might not be able to continue their education because of the expensive fees at the university”. 

“But at least when they leave College they are equipped with the basic skills and some knowledge of a certain trade to start their own business and start working to earn.” 

At Samoa College, Principal Reupena Rimoni said he is yet to get the final confirmed count for their students. 

“There was a lot of disruption from the measles and we are trying to sort that out,” he said. 

“We’ve had more than ten students who were overseas during exams and others had contracted measles.”

Mr. Rimoni said the school is working on an arrangement for the students who did not sit the exam and will be able to give a final count by next week. 

Although the Ministry of Education has not officially released the figures for the S.S.L.C. exams, Minister of Education Sports and Culture, Loau Kenei Sio is confident it has improved. 

He said from information he received from the C.E.O. the performance rate from the students has increased with improvement in the Mathematics and Science subjects. 

Asked about concerns raised on the disruption from the Pacific Games and epidemic, Loau said “there were obstacles but the performance from the students extremely good”. 

As for Avele College, Principal, Lesaisaea Reupena Matafeo said the events in 2019 had not affected the performance from their students.  He gave an estimate of the passing rate for S.S.L.C. exceeding their target of 87 per cent. 

“We achieved well over our target and I can say that we reached 90 per cent passing rate from students for S.S.L.C.,” said Matafeo. 

“I don’t have the figures with me right now but I can tell you that it has increased for our school. 

“The measles and the Pacific Games had no negative impact on our students, in fact they performed better than previous year.”

The principal said managing and planning the school schedule for the students during the Pacific Games was key to their successful year. 

He added the cancellation of examination during the State of Emergency for the measles epidemic was an advantage for the students to have more time to study for the exams. 

Queries sent to the Interim Vice Chancellor of the N.U.S., Silafau Dr. Sina Vaai, have not been responded to as of press time.

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