Vaigaga Primary coming soon: Govt.
Urban West Member of Parliament, Faumuina Wayne Fong, is continuing to push for the Vaigaga Primary School project to be completed but on Wednesday secured an assurance that it would be.
The Minister of Education, Sports and Culture, Loau Keneti Sio said that the Vaigaga Primary School Project will soon take form following a question from Faumuina questioning the Government’s priorities between school buildings and sports grounds.
Faumuina’s reminder of the delayed school project was raised during a Parliamentary session on Wednesday regarding requests from the M.P. from Falealili East and Anoama'a East for sports arenas to be constructed in their constituencies.
“A question to the Minister [of Education] and Prime Minister, why didn’t they build the Vaigaga School building?,” said Faumuina.
“The children are waiting and the World Bank has already given the funds but it has been taken away.
“And yet we’re discussing rugby fields while students are kept waiting for a school building; a project which has already been endorsed to be built.”
In response, Loau told Faumuina not to worry, promising the school will be built before the current term of Government ends.
“The Ministry [of Education, Sports and Culture] has already laid out the plans for the school building project Faumuina has spoken about,” Loau said on Wednesday.
“We will build your school building before this term ends.”
Last October, Cabinet withdrew World Bank funding for the Vaigaga Primary School project; instead, the school rebuilding project will be funded by the Government and community.
Other M.P.s’ requests for sporting grounds were similarly met with assurances from the Education Minister and the Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi who said money is available for their development. But the Government is facing issues regarding the availability of land, they said.
“I also have already discussed the matter with the [Falealili East] Member of Parliament that after they find an available land suitable for the project, then notify me so we may be able to discuss with the Ministry so the project can proceed,” the Prime Minister said.
Tuilaepa added that the Government financial year is far from over, meaning there is more than enough time to find land for the project.
“If not this Financial Year and this Government returns, it is important for this Parliament and country to know that the development of our children and local athletes remains to be a priority. This means the constituency needs to continue searching for a space for their sports arena,” he said.
Tuilaepa assured the Falealili M.P., Fuimaono Samuelu Te’o that their request is on the list of priorities following recent Samoan advances in sport.
“It is the Government’s aim that all constituencies or even villages to each have a sports ground for the benefit of our children,” he said.
Tuilaepa noted that the Government’s push for the development of sport is in recognition that not everyone is gifted academically.
“There are those who are talented in sports and I have said it many times that, now, a boy or girl can earn millions during their contract in one year while some doctors and lawyers die before they reach two million,” he said.
“This is what is happening in the world right now, a student has the potential of earning great amounts in sports.”
The primary school project has been at the centre of a war of words between Faumuina and the Prime Minister.
Last year, Faumuina accused the Government of “playing dirty politics” by withholding funding for the project.
A World Bank Group spokesperson in Fiji told the Samoa Observer that the World Bank provided funding to rebuild the primary school under a climate change resilience program and that it was not ‘withheld’.
“It is the prerogative of the Samoan Government to decide what specific investments will be financed using World Bank resources. We respect the decision, and will continue to work closely with the Government of Samoa on other climate resilient investments under this project,” the spokesperson said.