School and Education in Samoa

The education system is based on New Zealand. It is a 10-year compulsory schooling. The primary school is 6 years old and the secondary school 7 years old. The National University of Samoa was established in 1988. Apia also has a department of the University of the South Pacific (USP), the Alafua campus, with an emphasis on agricultural sciences.

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Children and School

The family life

The family is very important in Samoa. Usually the families are large and there are many children in one family. In addition, several generations live together: grandma, grandpa, mom, dad and many children. Old people are not left alone. They stay in the family and are looked after in the event of illness. The individual is not so important in Samoa, what matters is the community.

What is Faa Samoa?

An important term is that of the Faa Samoa, which actually encompasses the entire attitude towards life of the Samoans. There are rules for living together that everyone must adhere to. This includes community, order and respect and of course religious life.

This way of surviving is also adopted by the Samoans who go abroad. Their roots remain in their homeland, to which they feel connected. This is how they support their families wherever possible.

Samoa Country Flag

Samoa flag source:

The Matai and its meaning

Every family has a leader, a head called Matai. He takes care of all matters that are important for living together. He mediates disputes and has to answer for a crime by a family member.

Each village consists of several families, so there are also several Matai in the village. A “boss” is then elected from their ranks who is responsible for the entire village. He often holds this office for life. However, it can also be deselected if it fails. That means a serious loss of face for the whole family and the Matai personally.

How do the children live?

Every family has many children and so every child also has many siblings. The population is on average very young and the birth rate is high. Having just one child is impossible for a family in Samoa. So no child is alone. Siblings take care of each other. For children, responsibility begins very early. Children not only look after brothers and sisters, but also help with the household and with the work in the fields and in the garden.

There is always someone to play with

And the older ones command the younger children. It’s a tradition in Samoa. The very youngest have a hard time because they have no one to send. There are hardly any toys. But children in Samoa are never alone for this, they always have someone to play with.

Childhood “ends” in Samoa at the age of 14. Then the children are accepted into the group of young people, unfortunately they are then again the youngest there.