Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, has attributed the growing problem of interschool violence to Samoa’s decision to adopt a number of international conventions giving children more freedom.
He said these contradict the teachings of the Holy Bible, which should be strictly adhered to.
Tuilaepa made the comments following the closure of Avele College last week as Police investigate threats made on social media in relation to a fight with Maluafou College.
Referring to the Bible, Tuilaepa said Biblical principles bring peace.
“We can’t hide this from parents and the teachers that they can no longer control their children,” said Tuilaepa.
“It’s all because they reached out to these legislations from overseas instead of using the teachings of the Bible.
“Spare the rod and spoil the child is one of the teachings that should be used to deal with children.”
The Prime Minister said the lessons he learnt from being beaten by the teachers have shaped him to be the person he is today.
“I would’ve been another thief out there assaulting people if it wasn’t for that beating from the teachers…that is what I’m saying, why should we follow palagi laws when we have the teachings from the Bible?”
The Prime Minister did not mention any specific legislations in terms of international conventions he was referring to.
He also confirmed that Cabinet has directed the Office of the Attorney General to draft legislation to help discourage, stop and prevent the type of behaviour that leads to acts of violence between school students, thereby causing injury and creating an environment of fear amongst students, teachers, parents and the general public.
Tuilaepa said the legislation should reflect Samoa’s principles of Christian living, cultural practices and modern-day disciplinary measures that are also used by other democratic forms of government, like Samoa, within the Commonwealth and United Nations family of nations.
Asked if he thought the closure is unfair on innocent students and teachers, Tuilaepa said it’s a tough issue.
“Once decisions are made there are other solutions to it,” he said.
“Another way is for them to go back to schools in their districts. Do you know that there are children from Lepa attending Avele when there are Colleges in the district that they should attend instead?
“This is what happens when they come to town and muck around, ride on the buses and do stupid things in town that can affect other children that were not involved at first. “The only solution is to close the school.”
Tuilaepa also scorned at the Old pupils association and parents of the school for not acting earlier to resolve the problem.
“This school used to have a very unified old pupils and parents association,” he said.
“But this has been happening for so long and I don’t know where they are sleeping which means that even they cannot do anything about it.”
He recalled his comments he made about three months ago where he warned the students including Avele College that Cabinet would do something drastic to stop the fights forever.
“I thought Avele would’ve caught that statement I made infront of here,” said Tuilaepa.
Another solution, he said, is to stop giving government funds to schools who break the law.
Tuilaepa admits that the government has no power over the missionary schools but they can stop injecting funds to the schools.
“We will give the funds directly to the principal of the school like Leulumoega for church school,” he explained.
“What’s happening is whatever is done there is always something that goes wrong.
“At first the church said to give it to their boards and the schools have complained that they were only give a portion of rice.
“Now that this has happened we will ask the police for a report. If the school has bad records of school fights then we will stop giving them funds.”