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Put children first, fa’alavelave second, says Samoa's Minister of Education

Children and education first, fa’alavelave second.The Minister of Education, Sports and Culture, Magele Mauiliu Magele has offered advice that parents should pay for their children’s fees before contributing to fa’alavelave.The suggestion from the Member of Parliament for Fa’asaleleaga No1 comes after more than 100 students from the National University of Samoa (NUS) had their enrolment cancelled due to unpaid fees.Although he said he was in support of the idea ofa loan scheme for tertiary students suggested by the Tautua Samoa Party, Magele warned there are problems that come with it. “I think the idea is brilliant but talk is not always an easy walk,” he said.As the Vice Chancellor for the National University of Samoa in 2008, the Minister said they had trialled the idea.“There were negotiations with one of the banks in our country in 2008 but halfway through the negotiations I was given a paper that I had to sign,” he explained.“The paper from the bank required me to sign on behalf of the university to make NUS a guarantor for the students’ loans.“This meantif there were any default payments, the university would be liable to pay. However as you know, the university doesn’t have any money and that was the end of that.“But my advice to parents is prioritiseyour children and put aside money for school fees.“We know fa’alavelave is part of our lives but no one dies if they don’t go to fa’alavelave.“Put money aside for children and money will be there for fa’alavelave when they (children) have good jobs and get paid.”Assistance through National Provident Fund is also available for parents for school purposes, said the Minister.He explained that parents are able to loan from NPF for student fees.But Magele is not encouraging people to loan.“We have to be careful not to impose more on our people who are already struggling to pay for other loans.”