Senate Education Committee chairman Senator Fai‘ivae Iuli Godinet has called for a Senate hearing to look at the reported use of illegal drugs in public high schools, with several witnesses being called to provide testimony.
The witness list includes Education Department director Dr Ruth Matagi-Tofiga, principals of the public high schools as well as officials from Department of Public Safety and the Office of Samoan Affairs.
Senator Tuaolo Manaia Fruean called for the inclusion of Samoan Affairs to ascertain their role in helping to “stomp out” the illegal drug problem given that public schools are located in villages.
Fruean claimed that the illegal drug problem on high school campuses was now spreading like “cancer” to elementary schools.
An elementary school is the main point of delivery of primary education in the United States, for children between the ages of 4 and 14.
Fruean said everyone, including the Fono and traditional leaders, play a role in seeking to solidify preventive measures.
The scheduled Senate hearing followed recent allegations of illegal drug use at Fagaitua High School campus
Senator Godinet moved to include all high school principals in the hearing so that senators will learn more on the prevalence of illegal drugs on high school campuses and how the Fono can assist in addressing this serious problem, which is probably affecting all public secondary schools.
Senator Muagututi‘a Tauoa said he spoke last week with the Fagaitua High School principal, who confirmed the reports of illegal drug use.
He said the matter has been referred to local authorities, while communication about the matter has already been carried out with police and the Department of Education.
According to the 2015 American Samoa Statistical Yearbook released in January this year, there were about 30 drug cases involving juveniles between 2005 and 2015.
At the House Education Committee hearing two weeks ago, Representative Vesi Talalelei Fautanu claimed that reports that drugs had made their way into schools “was not a joke, this is not a rumour”.
The results of a local survey conducted in 2013 on the prevalence of cigarette smoking, alcohol and illicit drug use by students was shared by American Samoa with Samoa during a health summit last November hosted by American Samoa.
Among the statistics presented at the summit was that of a sample of students who had taking illicit drugs for the past 12 months, 30 per cent of them said they were offered, sold or given the drugs by someone on a school property.
- Samoa News/PNC