The correct use of district grants

By The Editorial Board 15 April 2024, 10:00AM

It is always heartwarming to see that the district development grant is being used in the right manner and that is to improve the lives of people. Many constituencies are still guilty of wasting money by not focusing the grant in the right place.

In the tranquil village of Puipa'a, Muaau Lavatoe, a 62-year-old father of three, shares his heartfelt appreciation for a groundbreaking project spearheaded by the government—a project that has injected new hope and opportunities into the lives of countless families in Puipa'a and beyond through the implementation of the $1 million district development project.

Mr. Lavatoe’s story should make district councils re-look at the way the $1 million is being used. It should not be wasted on wheelbarrows and spades but looked at things that would create opportunities.

For generations, Puipa'a's livelihood has been intertwined with the sea, with fishing serving as the primary source of sustenance for many families, including Muaau's own. However, despite their deep connection to the ocean, the lack of proper equipment and tools often hindered their ability to maximize their potential.

How many villages next to the ocean have resources to fish or make the best out of the bounty that is offered by the ocean? How many district councils have invested the grant into ventures that would yield dividends and make the constituency not reliant on the handout from the government?

Muaau reminisced about the days when his son, Don Leota, would venture out to sea armed with little more than a canoe and a fishing spear, relying on age-old techniques to secure their catch.

However, the winds of change began to blow with the inception of the $1 million1qaQ1 project—a visionary initiative that aimed to empower individual families and catalyse grassroots development.

With renewed optimism, Muaau and his fellow villagers seized the opportunity to submit a proposal to their district office, outlining their need for modern fishing gear to enhance their productivity.

Their efforts bore fruit as they received four fishing nets, courtesy of the project. This is a fine example of district councils being in touch with their people and knowing the right investment, otherwise, it would just be a waste of public funds.

But at the end of the day, the best way to utilise the district grants is through education. This is the best investment a district council or the national government can do.

Education helps a person hone their communication skills by learning how to read, write, speak and listen. Education develops critical thinking. This is vital in teaching a person how to use logic when making decisions and interacting with people.

Education helps an individual meet basic job qualifications and makes them more likely to secure better jobs.

Education promotes gender equality and helps empower girls and women. A World Bank report found that an extra year of schooling for girls reduces teen pregnancy rates in Peru by almost seven per cent and gives women more control over how many children they have.

Education reduces child mortality. According to UNESCO, a child born to a mother who has a high school diploma is 31 per cent more likely to survive past the age of five.

And for these reasons, education should also be free. Free education carries the potential for significant economic impact, notably by fostering a more qualified workforce and alleviating financial strains associated with higher education.

Free education initiatives can lead to a rise in university enrollment and graduation rates, as seen in various studies and practical implementations.

This translates into a larger pool of skilled workers entering the workforce, which is critical for the sustained growth of the economy. With more educated individuals, industries can innovate faster and remain competitive.

The subsequent increase in productivity and creative problem-solving bolsters the country’s economic profile.

Free education stands as a cornerstone for a more equitable society, providing a foundation for individuals to reach their full potential without the barrier of cost.

It fosters an inclusive culture where access to knowledge and the ability to contribute meaningfully to society are viewed as inalienable rights.

Free education mitigates the socioeconomic disparities that often dictate the quality and level of education one can attain.

When tuition fees are eliminated, individuals from lower-income families are afforded the same educational opportunities as their wealthier counterparts, leading to a more level playing field.

Expanding educational access enables all members of society to pursue a wider array of careers and life paths, broadening personal choices and promoting a diverse workforce.

Recognising education as a human right underpins the movement for free education. All children should have access to quality, inclusive, and free education.

This aligns with international agreements and the belief that education is not a privilege but a right that should be safeguarded for all, regardless of one’s socioeconomic status.

By The Editorial Board 15 April 2024, 10:00AM
Samoa Observer

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