School children of the Le Amosa School during the Independence Parade
By Lagi Keresoma
APIA, SAMOA: WEDNESDAY 15 JULY 2015: District Court Judge Mata Tuatagaloa was direct in her language when she told a mother of four to send her children to school or face harsher punishment the next time she appears in Court.
The mother, Tusiata Patolo was charged under the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture (MESC) Compulsory Education Act for failing her duty as a mother to her children.
Two of Ms. Patolo’s children used to attend the Manumalō School. However, the children were seen selling goods on the streets during school hours.
Ms. Patolo said there were times the older children stay at home to look after the young ones while she sells goods to earn a living.
In passing judgement, Judge Tuatagaloa explained the law and why compulsory education was endorsed by the Government.
She told Ms. Patolo that next time she appears in Court, a severe sentence will be issued.
Ms. Patolo was convicted and discharged.
Since the enforcement of the compulsory education law in 2009, four sets of parents have been charged as of last month.
Ms. Patolo is the first of the four to be sentenced.
Under the compulsory education act, parents can be fined $1,000 or face imprisonment.
Currently, the Act covers only the 5-14 age group and stipulates school time from 9.00am to 2.00pm, so if a child is caught selling goods after school, the Act can do nothing.
The Ministry of Police domestic sector is spearheading a proposal to amend the Act to extend the compulsory education age to the university level, to secure a guarantee for a child’s future.
The other three set of parents are yet to appear in Court.