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Thursday 19 May 2016 | Published in Regional

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SAMOA – Students of Samoa’s Avele College were back at school this week after the college reopened under very strict conditions and the threat of permanent closure.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi reaffirmed that the college had been given a “last chance”.

Samoa’s Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture two weeks ago shut down Avele College for the protection and security of its students after a brawl which involved students from Avele, Saint Joseph and Faleata colleges.

The 26 Avele students charged by the police have been expelled and will not be accepted in any other government college.

The prime minister said the government-owned Avele College has given the government and the country a bad name and that the government has given the school a final chance after an undertaking signed by the teachers, parents and the old pupils association.

One of the conditions includes the banning of students having mobile phones at the school.

Tuilaepa also emphasized the enforcing of a zoning system whereby students will have to attend the college closest to their residence to save on the cost of bus fares “and so they can be under the constant watch and guidance of their parents.”

“If the college is involved in any more fights, then cabinet will loosen the string with one end tied to its door and the other to the Avele College chicken,” Tuilaepa said.

The school has also undertaken to report any Avele student involved in any violent behaviour, posting negative comments on the social media, or any other action that may cause trouble, directly to the police.

Principals in Samoa coping with the latest school brawls say social media is to blame.

Two colleges, Avele and Malua fou, plan to talk to the phone companies to see if they can help to curb phone use.

Avele’s principal Matafeo Reupena said the college will not be taking the upcoming two weeks school break in order for students to catch up with school work lost while the college was closed for the last two weeks.

Avele College, which opened its doors in 1923, is Samoa’s oldest government school. It celebrated its 90th jubilee in 2014.

- PNC sources