Student loans, new fund key to opposition's policy
The Tautua Samoa political party have unveiled a National Education Fund, an overhaul of education funding which they say will be a key plank of their policy agenda if they are elected in next year's elections.
Afualo Luagalau Salele, leader of Tautua Party, said in a press conference that the Fund will ensure that students receive a quality education.
Samoa currently does not grant student loans but this Fund would.
The party also unveiled plans to establish a new branch of the national university on the big island focused on trades as part of the unveiling of their education policy.
The Fund, the party says, is built on three pillars: parents, Government and students.
Right now, public schools are free from Year one to Year 11. But Afualo questioned why it does not also cover the two most important years of the student's college life, Year 12 and 13.
He described the policy as analogous to the Samoan proverb: like throwing the chicken while holding the sennit (E togi le moa ae uu le afa)
Tautua Samoa proposes that parents' contribution into their children's education will be to pay for Year 1 to Year 8, as most school fees do not exceed $20 in public schools.
But as soon as the the student hits Year 9, they can be schooled for free with national examination fees covered as well.
"This is the contribution of the Tautua Samoa to the student's education, should we be elected into Government," he said.
Once the students are able to hit the mark to enter tertiary education, they would then be entitled to apply for a student loan using this Fund to continue their education.
"This will take off the burden that most parents face with once their children are in university, not being able to afford the more than a thousand dollars school fees," said Afualo.
"There is joy in their children making it into the National University of Samoa, but it is not a small amount of money, most cannot afford it."
The Fund will be generated in the model of the National Provident Fund, said Afualo. The public are able to loan from and pay back with a minimal interest.
"Every student will be entitled to this fund," he said.
"In fact, once a baby is born, he or she will automatically be registered in the database of the Fund."
Afualo said once the Fund is established there will be no excuse as to why Samoa's students are not well educated.
The Tautua Samoa party are confident that the Fund will boost Samoa's education sector and extend new opportunities to students.
The Tautua Samoa has also proposed establishing a branch of the National University of Samoa in Savai'i, focusing mainly on trades.
Should they be elected into Government, the proposed branch would be located in Salelologa, and called the Samoa University of Technology, Tolotolo-o-Tamauli Campus.