Child vendor numbers increase

A report from the public says that despite the passing of the Compulsory Education Act, the number of child street vendors continues to increase.

“It doesn’t change anything at all,” a member of the public said. 

“You see many issues have been raised about kids who instead of going to school, roam around the streets, to do this and that which annoys people

This was witnessed by an ANZ security guard at Vaitele who told the Samoa Observer that they can’t stop these kids from selling goods or washing cars.

“You see, we gave kids the chance to sell goods because it helps them earn money for food,” he said. 

“Sometimes they are still on the job till 10pm in the evening.”

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According to Popi, a 6 year old who is one of the street vendors, washing cars earns him money.

And he is doing it with the approval of his mother.

“My mom told me to come wash cars,” he said.

“She’s right there,” he said pointing to the opposite side of the road.

“I go school at Saina Primary School and washing cars earns money for my school lunch.” 

Attorney Loukinikini Vili, says a significant emotional and mental burden is placed upon children when they have to take on financial responsibilities for their families’ livelihood.

Members of the taskforce involved with the Compulsory Education Laws, which include the police, the Education Ministry and village representatives, have agreed that law enforcement is the main weakness.

However, others believe the Act is too weak, citing cases of those who have been caught and penalised and have returned to the practice soon after.

A report by Samoa’s Ombudsman, Maiava Iulai Toma says lax law enforcement is one of the reasons why there are many small children selling goods on the street during school hours.

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