11 January, 2018. Samoa – The awarding of academic scholarships to New Zealand and Australia is a fair and equitable process and the decision-making is one of transparency.
Such was the Prime Minister’s stance, responding to questions raised during his weekly press conference concerning the selection of students for overseas scholarships.
Media asked PM Tuilaepa Dr Sailele Malielegaoi about criticism raised by some on social media who claim that children of those on the scholarship committee have been given special preference.
The Prime Minister dismissed such claims by pointing out that there are 15 people on the Scholarship Committee who make the decisions in unity. He also pointed out that representatives from New Zealand and Australia are present during the decision process.
“E le mafai la ona sao ai se mea pi’opi’o i’i. O lea e transparent mea uma.”
“You can’t get away with foul play here. Everything is transparent.”
The Prime Minister says that those making accusations have not brought forward any substantiated details or specific names of scholarship students involved, suggesting that the information is frivolous.
“E ala na õ e faasalalau i mea na, ma tu’ua’ia ai le failautusi, aua e taumafai e fa’aleaga. Ana fa’apea e sa’o mea ia, e tusitusi lelei mai a i le nusipepa ma ta’u mai a latou igoa, aua e leai ni mea fa’apena o faia”, said the Prime Minister.
“To’a 15 le komiti. Ana iai ni mea pi’o i’i, e fa’alauiloa a e le 14 o sui o le komiti”, he said.
“There are 15 members of the committee. If there was any foul play, the other 14 committee members would have reported it.”
Administered by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Tripartite scholarships awards between Samoa, Australia and New Zealand are “allocated on a competitive basis each year in either a general public category, i.e. the OPEN CATEGORY AWARDS, or in one of the specific categories i.e. the APTC AWARDS, FOUNDATION YEAR AWARDS and NUS AWARDS”.
The accusations in social media relate to the Foundation Year Awards where approximately 55 awards are offered annually to the cream of Samoa’s school leavers who graduate from the National University of Samoa’s UPY class.
The MFAT website states that, “the final selection of candidates are carried out jointly with development partners A-DFAT and NZ-MFAT.”
It further states that the process is, “The National University of Samoa submits the First Semester Results of Foundation Year students to the Ministry. The Ministry will contact students for a meeting prior to completing the preliminary form for eligibility assessment. Award Offers are finalized only at the end of the academic year following receipt of both First Semester and Second Semester results.”