Education access drives F.A.S.T. candidate
A veteran school Principal is standing for the next election with the aim of raising the standard of education for children in Alataua i Sisifo, Savai’i.
Tufutafoe Primary School’s Principal, Seuula Ioane, will attempt to wrest the seat away from Aliimalemanu Alofa Tuuau and the ruling Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.).
The 63-year-old will be running for the nation’s newest political party Faatuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T).
The father of six children said he feels that he would be the best candidate for the seat because he says that he lives and breathes life in his village.
"I understand what exactly are the challenges in our district as well as their needs, and I am ready to serve as they bestow their trust on me," he said in an interview with the Samoa Observer at F.A.S.T headquarters after announcing his candidacy.
"I believe that after each Parliament sitting, I will go back home and host a meeting to ensure the villagers understand what was discussed in Parliament."
The chance to make education more accessible for the children of Alataua i Sisifo is driving Seuula's candidacy, he said.
"First and foremost is the education side of things; if you can remember, two buses had crashed in the area with our school children travelling to college in it in the past years; this is what happens when schools are too far," he said.
"College is so far from where our children live, and we have requested and urged the current Government over the years for a college to be situated closer to Alataua i Sisifo."
The constituency is made up of Falelima, Tufutafoe and Neiafu. Seuula is from Tufutafoe.
According to Seuula, the nearest college to the constituency is Itu Asau College, situated more than 20 kilometres from all three villages.
"The problem is the distance, and the buses have their own schedules. In order to avoid being late, students catch the earliest bus from our side which is 4 to 5 in the morning and get to school around that time, which is hours before school starts; it's still dark at that time," he said.
"And difficulties have happened in these waiting periods, also, after school, the children would walk all the way if they can't wait for the bus, arriving home at about 6 am in the evening.
“Once they get home, they just have dinner and sleep, no energy for homework. And this is something we want to change."
Another policy focus for the candidate is agriculture.
"Our constituency is great with ava, but the problem is, there is not a great market available for the growers and this is something I'd like to shed a light upon," he said.
"I will not do it myself, but I will be voicing all this to the Government to ensure their voices are heard and hope for assistance to follow or not.
"But if the Government will not, then we will act upon it ourselves. As an M.P. I will gather young people from each village and boost their capabilities,” he said.
“[We will] have incentives for them to continue developing their plantations, farms, and be proactive in attracting investors to the village, setting up businesses and employing the locals."
Seuula compared choosing F.A.S.T. to students choosing to ride in a bus that everyone wants to board with fresh paint, good music and a friendly bus driver.
"I think of the word: faith; faith in the Lord. To me, this means we have come here not as a teacher, we are not whole, which is why we rely on God," he said.
"That's why I chose this party, because the way I see it, everyone in here is relying on God as they come in leaving all their qualifications and honorifics aside. God leads, God equips and God reminds us what we have to do."
Seuula has been a teacher for more than 40 years and a Principal for 20 years.
"I often hear people ask, how have you prepared for the General Election? But the truth is, I did not prepare for it, everything I have done over the years was not a preparation for the Election. I worked purely for my family, I am a matai, it is my duty; as well as my family and church but also my duty to the Government as a teacher," he said.
"I had no plans of running until I was approached by my village to be a candidate and I appreciated it; opportunities such as these don't come often."