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Samoa Education Network revived

A coalition of community groups hoping to get their efforts some national attention has been revived, with 16 members across Samoa in education, health and agriculture.

The Samoa Education Network (S.E.N.), which was started in 2017 but lost traction, now has new leadership and is operating out of the Matuaileoo Environment Trust Incorporated (M.E.T.I.) offices in Moto’otua.

M.E.T.I. founder Dr. Walter Vermeulen has taken the helm with his organisations as the lead agency, and increased membership to 16 non-government organisations including ten farming cooperatives.

The other organisations are the National Teacher’s Association, Senese Inclusive Education, Faataua le Ola, the Samoa Umbrella of Non-Government Organisations and the Poutasi Development Trust. 

Dr. Vermeulen said the objective is for the organisations to better communicate their needs and success stories to Government and funding agencies through an all-encompassing advocate body.

Where village-level efforts to improve health and education have succeeded, Government ministries should be informed and encouraged to take up those efforts nationally, he said.

S.E.N. hopes to be part of Samoa’s work to meet the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030, which the country is due to report progress on to the United Nations this year.

Health, education and agriculture are just the first of many areas the network wants to work in. Others include domestic violence and conflict resolution training.

The work of the various members is like “ammunition for advocacy” to the Government, Dr. Vermeulen said.

His own organisation M.E.T.I. which focuses on diet, sleep and managing non-communicable diseases, has been trialing a village-based project on reversing the effects of diabetes for a year.

He said the success some of the four trial villages have had, and the influence the project has had on the neighbouring villages means the Ministry of Health ought to take a look at their work.

“If what we have achieved could be done nationally, we could have control over diabetes in two or three years,” Dr. Vermeulen said. And S.E.N. is the right mechanism to that that to Government, he believes.

S.E.N. is funded externally and is one of dozens of education coalitions around the world that is supported by the Asia South Pacific Association for Basic and Adult Education (A.S.P.B.A.E.).

The association works with more than 200 civil society organisations in the region with capacity building and management and helping organisations lobby Government on policies they care about.

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