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Computer savvy kids

Forty-two youngsters from around the territory are using their summer months learning how to become web savvy, thanks to the free computer basic research course being administered by the Dept. of Youth and Women's Affairs. See story for full details. [photo: Blue Chen-Fruean]

In this day in age, basic computer skills is a must, especially for youngsters who will grown up in a world where advancement in technology continues to play a role in their everyday lives.

From searching for information online, to sending and receiving emails, knowing how to use a computer is a skill that will benefit anyone in the long run.

That is why the Department of Youth and Women's Affairs (DYWA) continues to offer free computer courses for not only the territory's young people, but also adults.

Yesterday, Samoa News visited the computer lab at the DYWA Pago Pago Community Youth Center where the summer classes are being held.

DYWA Academy Division Youth Coordinator Zena Iese - who is also a local filmmaker - was in the midst of explaining to the students the importance of visual aids.

The students in attendance sat quietly, grasping the information while Iese continued his lecture.

"In addition to teaching them how to use computers, this class also serves to steer them towards learning how to play a role in effective teamwork and professional presentation," Iese told Samoa News, adding that life lessons are also taught and incorporated into the daily agenda.

The course is a three-week program that is held for one hour per day, four days a week (M-Th).

At the conclusion of the program, each participant will receive a certificate of completion, indicating their successful passage of the 12-hour course.

The program is made possible, thanks to the Orphaned Starfish Foundation which, according to DYWA Deputy Director Pa'u Roy Ausage, has provided monetary assistance to fund the computer lab and the free courses since 2015.

Andy Stein, founder and executive director of the Orphaned Starfish Foundation, is an associate of famed Samoan NFL superstar Troy Polamalu, Pa'u explained. "When Polamalu came down during one of his visits, we approached him for help on equipping a computer lab that can be used to provide courses for the kids and adults of American Samoa. It was Polamalu who connected us with Andy Stein and his wife Dilia," Pa'u continued.

According to Iese, the courses are for kids who are 10-18 years old. "But don't be mistaken," he said. "The young ones are definitely keeping up with the older kids."

Iese said the 10-year-olds in the program are pushed to soak up more information and "they are like sponges."

Iese and two other computer technicians are charged with teaching the classes that have a total enrollment of 42 kids. "We don't just teach the basics here," he said. "We want these kids to leave the program with knowledge on how to conduct research online, among other things."

The computer course is one of many that are offered free of charge throughout the year by DYWA.


According to their website, the Orphaned Starfish Foundation "is dedicated to helping orphans, victims of abuse, victims of trafficking and at-risk youth break their cycles of abuse and poverty through computer based education, job training and job placement assistance. We commit to every program for life."

Since their beginning in 2001, Orphaned Starfish programs have addressed the challenges "facing orphans, victims of abuse and at-risk youth by providing them with technology training. OSF funds the construction and operation of vocational training facilities, including funding for furnishings, purchasing required equipment, teacher salaries, job placement services and scholarships for higher education." In addition, "OSF also provides English language software and classes, a Life-Skills Program, Scholarship and helps with job placement, whenever possible." The organization makes a difference in the lives of over 10,000 children in 52 programs in 25 countries, and growing.