Teachers slam rural parents for child neglect

Teachers have decried parents in rural communities neglecting their children’s education, which they say has led to students walking home alone and lacking guidance in the food they bring to school.

Lalomanu Primary School Principal, Maulalo Levave Ioane, told the Samoa Observer that she has taught for a decade and is seeing increasing cases of parents neglecting their children, due to the perception that it is safe in villages and the students do not need parental care and guidance.

"It's a bit sad because it's becoming a habit for the parents back here in the rural (areas) not to value their children's education through so many reasons," she said.

"First, they are used to the fact that back here in the rural it is safe with no people to harm their children, and not many cars all the time like Apia, that they neglect their children to come to school by themselves."

Children are also being unsupervised when it comes to choosing a proper diet, she added and recalled that there was a recent case in her school, of a child suffering from diarrhea before her exams and another recovering from heart surgery.

"The food they're feeding their children is not safe because from what we see in the classrooms, some children like today, had diarrhea before her exams and the other one just finished her heart surgery and she is on her recovery but then again, it's because the parents are too negligent."

Increasing unemployment amongst families is also impacting on the education of children, as the parents often do not care if their child is in school.

"This is the most important one because of the number of unemployment in their families, they do not care whether their children went to school for how many years, when they see an opportunity,” Mrs Ioane said. 

With the growth in Samoa’s tourism industry, the Principal said it appears parents want their children to work immediately with resorts and hotels, thereby disregarding the child’s education.

Mrs Ioane said she believes a lot of parents spend more time playing bingo and neglect the welfare and education of their children. 

Another Principal from the Sapo'e and Utulae Primary School, Lafoga Isaako, expressed the same sentiments and added that parents in town appear to be more committed to their children than their colleagues in villages. 

“I see the majority of the parents in Apia dropping their children to school properly and maybe because of the busy roads, but here, parents don't care much about their children's education," he said.

"From my experience in these schools here in the rural areas, the children have gotten used to going to school and back home by themselves, which has led to them being influenced by misbehavior that parents wouldn't want their children to be associated with."

A 27-year-old mother of two and Lalomanu resident, Avaia Taupega, told this newspaper that her family’s main source of income is vegetable selling by the roadside by her husband.

Discussing the challenges that children in rural communities face, Mrs Taupega said she is confident that her children will not suffer the same fate that children in rural areas face.

Another parent, Tautala Tauga, acknowledged the challenges that children in rural communities faced and said students at the Manono-Tai Primary School – which is within the vicinity of her family home – face similar challenges.

Consequently, she decided to send her child to a relative in Australia to be educated and to set him up for life.

"If I was to live in Apia then it would've been a different case. But I've seen that it's not really that much of a progress for the schools in the rural area so it needs to be considered," she said.

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