Decentralisation or centralisation? Education in Western Samoa 1992

Dr Peggy Fairbairn-Dunlop
Vol 11, Number 2, p.94
It is somewhat ironic that just as the New Zealand education system is in the process of decentralising, thoughts in Western Samoa are turning to centralising the education system, in the interests of economy, efficiency of operation, and better quality of education. The present situation in Samoa is that village communities build and maintain their own village schools, while the Education Department provides teachers and a very modest stationery grant to assist the operation of these schools. The question of centralising educational administration has been debated for some time in Western Samoa, but surfaced with renewed vigour following the disastrous effects of cyclones Ofa (January 1990) and Val (December 1991). An estimated 85% of Western Samoa's village schools were completely destroyed/made unusable by the latter cyclone (Observer, 1992) and now, almost a year later, schooling is still being conducted in village fales and church buildings throughout the nation because villages cannot raise enough money to re-build their schools. Given these circumstances, it is natural that attention should be focused on whether it is economically desirable or practical for every village (regardless of size) to have its own school, as is the present practise, and government's role in providing funding for new school buildings.