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The National University of Samoa’s (NUS) Media and Journalism Programme now has a new Industry Advisory Panel (IAP).

The new IAP representing various media outlets and organisations have expressed commitment and support in providing academic and technical advice on the curriculum development of the Media and Journalism Programme.

They are Galumalemana Faiesea Lei Sam-Matafeo who is the Chief Executive Officer of Samoa Quality Broadcasting Limited (SQBL, TV1), now the new IAP Chair for the next two years.  Others include Faumuina Ferolini Tafuna’i (Media and Communications Specialist for Women in Business Development (WIBDI) and Deputy Chair of IAP), Mata’afa Keni Lesa (News Editor, Samoa Observer), Letoa Matini Faasino (Assistant Chief Executive Officer for Radio 2AP), Faimalomatumua Mathew Lemisio (Assistant Electoral Commissioner and former journalist), Lagipoiva Cherelle Jackson (International Labour Organisations Communications Specialist and Part Time Lecturer), Rudy Bartley (Director, WT Media) and Lanuola Tusani Tupufia (Samoa Observer reporter and former graduate of the NUS Media Programme).

“It is an honour to be part of the media training institute at NUS to be able to help and address the continuous challenges,” said Galumalemana.  “We all have a responsibility to make sure that the programme continues to receive the best support from us as employers.”

“We now have a work plan that will help us guide our work as IAP and look further for more changes if need be to cater for the needs of the programme,” she added.  “In the end, we always appreciate any feedback from the students who are on internship as well to help employers cater and mentor quality media practitioners.”

“We as employers support the university’s mission to be internationally recognised as the media is always at the forefront of bringing information to the public.  We are here to help and we look forward to working together with (NUS).”

NUS welcomed the new IAP through the presence of its Deputy Vice Chancellor, Letuimanu’asina Dr. Emma Kruse-Vaai.

“We thank you for agreeing to be part of the new IAP.  We value your contribution to help us with the development of the Media and Journalism Programme,” said Letuimanu’asina.

“When we have you on board to be part of the work that we do, it really does give it much more validity and it makes it much more transparent to the community that we know what we’re about.  We don’t really know everything, but we need people like you to tell us that this is how it is out there in the workforce,” added Letuimanu’asina.

Due to the increasing performance of student internship both locally and internationally, the Media and Journalism Programme continues to face challenges such as the need for more interested young people to take up media as a choice of study and as a profession.

Following successful activities and promotional events to draw in a lot of interests, media is usually not popular amongst the young people; therefore the newly appointed IAP aims to draft a yearly work plan to ensure that there are more activities developed to find more potential students to study media.

Representatives of the industry, commerce, ministries, professions and community will have the opportunity to participate in the development, delivery and review of programmes at NUS and where applicable, in the setting of competency standards.

The IAP will also greatly assist in taking in students for work attachment placements at the end of each year of study and report back to relevant programmes before they graduate.

For more information about the Department of Media and Communication, please visit our website on www.nus.edu.ws or visit us on Facebook

Sitting row (l-r):Lagipoiva Cherelle Jackson (ILO Communications Specialist), Honiara Salanoa (Head of Media and Communication Department), Galumalemana Faiesea Lei Sam-Matafeo (CEO, SQBL & Mai FM), Lafaitele Fualuga Taupi (Dean, Faculty of Arts).

Standing (l-r):Letoa Matini Faasino (ACEO, Radio 2AP), Mata’afa Keni Lesa (News Editor, Samoa Observer), Faimalomatumua Mathew Lemisio (ACEO Office of the Electoral Commissioner), Nora Daep-Tumua (Media and Journalism Lecturer), Faumuina Ferolini Tafuna’i (Media Officer, WIBDI), Rudy Bartley (General Manager, WT Media) and Misa Vicky Lepou (Media and Journalism Lecturer, IAP Secretary)

By Andrew Sands* and Maria Livigisitone*

The Samoa Observer’s 2015 Tusitala Short Story Competition has drawn to a close with entries submitted from all over the Pacific region.

Open to writers over eighteen years old from Australia, New Zealand, Samoa and the Pacific Islands, the competition is a cultural initiative of Savea Malifa, founder of the Samoa Observer newspaper, and wife Muliagatele Jean.

Malifa says the competition has been a dream waiting to happen for quite some time and is a bid to bring back the tradition of storytelling that was once so important to the culture of the Samoan people.

“We hope it will not only encourage a resurgence in telling our stories, but that it will provide well written literature for the world to enjoy,” he said.

Tusitalatranslates to “teller of tales” and was the name affectionately given to the great Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson by the Samoan people during his time in the nation.

The Samoan people honoured the important tradition of storytelling by appointing a selected family member as an orator, or Tulafale.

The traditional of a Tulafale illustrate a highly developed part of the Samoa culture that consists of its own style and language.

Having this competition is a good way to encourage all the Samoan reporters to write stories that our ancestors used to tell us - especially myths and legends

Naumati Vasa, a teacher from the National University of Samoa (NUS) said that there are many Samoan words that can be used to write stories.

However, the students do not research the Samoan language enough.

“Ancestral stories were historically passed on orally, however, in the modern age, the current generations of Samoans simply lack the skills or knowledge of how to effectively deliver these stories,” said Vasa.

"In Samoa, storytelling is very important because it describes our culture. Any Samoan stories must have an evidence. For instance, our village names and also people’s names. That’s why we need to improve and to tell more about our culture," added Vasa.

There are Samoan stories that have since been lost with time but this competition may afford Samoans the opportunity to rediscover some of these lost tales.

Just as it was in Samoan history, storytelling, and its unique method of orally passing on knowledge, was vital to many other indigenous cultures in the Pacific, including the Australian Aboriginals.

It was a tool used by the Australian Aboriginals to educate and entertain in a culture of no written language with which to communicate.

James Cook University’s Chair of Indigenous Australian Studies, Professor Yvonne Cadet-James, believes there are valuable lessons to be learned from Aboriginal stories if you learn to listen carefully.

“Storytelling is a way of educating people, so it’s not just about the story, it’s about a whole range of information that’s given to somebody,” she said.

“[There were] certainly stories about creation stories, so just as Christianity has its own philosophy and beliefs about how the world came to be and how people and animals [and] the environment came to be, we too have our own creation stories.”

“And a lot of them are moral-type stories that give a particular moral story as well as passing down information about how we came to be.”

A member of the Gugu Badhun people, Prof Cadet-James regularly revisits the land of her family’s origin to spend time teaching, hearing the stories of her people and enjoying the simpler pleasures of life.

While Prof Cadet-James does believe the tradition of storytelling in Indigenous culture may not be as predominant in today’s modern age, there is hope, with measures put into place to ensure the survival of the age-old custom.

“I think it’s sad that we don’t do enough of that [storytelling],” she said.

“I think it’s sad that a lot of our stories have disappeared over time. Luckily, there are mechanisms in place.”

“There are funds available to record those stories.”

“More research is being done in the storytelling area to record stories from people – not just about things like creation stories but stories about people’s histories and why certain things happen.”

Aboriginal cultural worker and storyteller Russell Butler is one man who has sought to keep the custom alive and says that as long as there are people like himself with a desire to preserve their oral history, Aboriginal storytelling will live on.

“It’s a very big part of our culture,” he said. “It’s to do with a lot of our history… a lot of our laws.”

“It’s a very important part of our life.”

Butler believes that the stories told in Indigenous culture should be shared with everyone and that the values contained within can apply to everyone living within our shores.

On finding the true meaning and worth within these stories, Mr Butler says you have to be proactive.

“You learn to listen. That’s the key to it,” he said.

*Andrew Sands is a Multimedia Student at the James Cook University, Australia.  Maria Livigistone is a Media and Journalism Student at the National University of Samoa.  This story was written as part of the online collaboration project of the two media schools.

21 July 2015: A new research has found that the system of traditional village government in Samoa further proves significant barriers that limit women’s access to and participation in decision-making forums.

Without significant participation in leadership decision-making at the village level, it is still a difficult step for women to become – or to be seen as – national leaders. 

Spearheaded by the Centre of Samoan Studies (CSS) at the National University of Samoa (NUS), the research was conducted with assistance from, and in collaboration with, the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture (MESC) and the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development (MWCSD) from the period of April 2013 to July 2015.

The research team led by the CSS Director, Leasiolagi Dr Malama Meleisea conducted a nationwide survey of women’s participation in political and economic village-based organizations, covering all villages and sub-villages in Samoa.

“It was a nationwide survey of all villages followed by a qualitative study of village organisation in a sample of 30 villages with and without formal obstacles to women’s participation in village government,” said Leasiolagi.  “We also conducted interviews of women candidates who have stood for past elections.”

Launched both in Upolu and Savaii, the report provides the findings, analysis and policy significance of research aimed to better understand the barriers to women’s political participation in Samoa.

“The paradoxical situation is that Samoan women have achieved approximate equality to men in most modern spheres of government and the economy, yet have never, since Samoa’s independence in 1962, succeeded in winning more than five seats in the 49 seat parliament,” added Leasiolagi.

“In most parliaments, women have held only one or two seats, usually for a single term. In 2015 Samoa was among the countries ranked lowest in the world for women’s representation in parliament, at 128 out of 140 countries.”

There is no one single cultural factor contributing to women’s limited participation.   Leasiolagi said that out of all the villages that were surveyed, the enumerators recorded 21 villages do not recognise women matai, and after the public consultations, it was found that this is only so in 19 villages.

“This means that even if a woman is given a title by her lineage, she cannot legally hold it if it is not recognised by the village. This is a very obvious impediment to women wishing to stand for parliamentary elections because village councils are highly influential in elections, especially villages with large populations of eligible voters.”

(insert piece of 5.5.% of women matai currently residing at villages where titles belong)

While the research team acknowledges that much of Samoa’s social stability rests on the continued effectiveness of village councils and churches in village government, the exclusion or marginalisation of women’s voices in the governing of Samoa’s villages, as well as at the national level, is likely to be to be counterproductive in relation to some of Samoa’s development issues. These issues have been well documented in government reports and include high rates of teenage pregnancy and prevalence of sexually transmitted infections, poor management of village and district schools, prevalence of family violence and gender-based violence, lack of attention to the needs of girls in village youth organisations, inadequate vaccination coverage in infants and children, problematic use of alcohol and drugs, pockets of rural poverty and disadvantage, and prevalence of preventable non-communicable diseases.

“Women as well as men need to take leadership in addressing these issues and women need and deserve more voice in setting local priorities.”

The report has also highlighted that the most common obstacle to women’s voice in local government is that among the very few female matai living in villages, even fewer sit in the village councils.

This form of exclusion, according to the report, is very difficult to quantify because it may not be formally articulated, but is more of an unspoken norm. 

“A common justification is that when men jest together women cannot be present because of the customary concept of ‘o le va tapuia (sacred space), an aspect of the covenant of respect between sisters and brothers,” said Leasiolagi.

Leaving aside the question of whether such jesting is appropriate or dignified in village council meetings, it is evident that many believe that women matai would not feel comfortable participating in meetings in most villages.

“Their absence reinforces public perceptions – even religious beliefs – that decision-making is a male prerogative, not only in the village councils, but also in village school committees, and by extension, in national parliament.”

Article 15 of the Constitution of Samoa forbids discrimination on the grounds of sex, but Article 100 provides that a matai title shall be held in accordance with Samoan custom and uses and with the ‘law according to Samoan custom and usage’.

“This law is not defined in the constitution or any legal act,” added Leasiolagi.  “However, a Bill to amend the Village Fono Act of 1990 may give village councils legal authority to protect Samoan customs and traditions, and to safeguard village traditions, norms and protocols, and may empower them to define village customs and traditions. Such authority is already invoked by some villages as grounds for refusing recognition to women matai.”

The survey also found that justifications for the exclusion of women from decision-making roles in villages were more frequently based on religious grounds than on customary grounds.  Furthermore, according to Leasiolagi, about half of those consulted in the survey considered that the churches are of equal importance to the village councils in local leadership.

“In most other countries the Methodist and Congregational churches have ordained women for many years past, but in Samoa, where these churches are self-governing, the trend has been resisted.”

“The Catholic Church and the Mormon Church are governed in accordance with the centralised organisational rules of their faiths and are not fully self-governing. The Catholic Church does not ordain women as priests, but there is no doctrinal reason why women could not be catechists.”

Among those many challenges that Leasiolagi and the research team have highlighted, the call to address these barriers in the long run is a need.  It takes those at the decision making level to act.

“We recommend that the Government of Samoa give further consideration to gender equity in the proposed amendments to the Village Fono Act 1990, and hold further consultations.”

“Whereas in keeping with constitutional provisions (Article 15) for the equality of citizens, and the rights of Samoan families to bestow their matai titles (Article 100), the Village Fono Act 1990 should be amended to include provisions that disallow village councils to discriminate on the basis of sex with regard to the recognition of matai titles or the right of a matai to participate in the village council.” 

“The amendment of the Village Fono Act 1990 should include provisions requiring village councils to formally consult with the daughters of the village and the Faletua ma Tausi on the formulation and provisions of village council policy (faiga fa’avae) and on the establishment of procedures to be followed in making village council decisions (i’ugafono).”

“The amendment of the Village Fono Act 1990 should include provisions that village council policy (faiga fa’avae) and procedures be followed in making village council decisions (i’ugafono), and include the provision that the president of the village women’s committee and/or the village women’s representative (Sui o Tama’ita’i o Nu’u) may directly represent issues and concerns of the village women’s committee to the village council at its meetings, rather than indirectly through the village representative (Sui o Nu’u).”

“We also recommend that the Churches of Samoa, through the Samoa Council of Churches, and within the respective established processes and procedures of each Church, consider ways and means to formally remove leadership barriers in the Church based on sex.”

“Give women more voice in the government and leadership of the Church at village level and increase Church leadership towards ending family violence.”

Other members of the research team also include Measina Meredith, Muagututi’a Ioana Chan Mow, Penelope Schoeffel, Semau Ausage Lauano, Hobert Sasa, Ramona Boodoosingh and Mohammed Sahib.Leasiolagi Dr Malama Meleisea during the report launch: Giving more women representation in politics.  (Photo: Tuifao Tumua/NUS Multimedia Unit)

 

Australia’s High Commissioner to Samoa, H.E. Sue Langford, Minister of Communication and Information Technology Hon. Tuisugaletaua Sofara Aveau and NUS Vice Chancellor and President, Prof Fui Tu’ua Ilaoa Asofou Soo.

 

 

The National University of Samoa (NUS) community will now enjoy a more advanced and manageable information and communication technology network for the years to come.

This was made possible through a technical assistance of about 40 manageable CISCO switches and a server that were fully funded and supported by the Network Startup Resource Centre (NSRC) based at the University of Oregon.

Acknowledging the assistance was the NUS Vice Chancellor and President, Prof. Fui Tu’ua Īlaoa Asofou So’o who has been at the forefront of driving the university’s vision to become internationally recognized.

“We always look for ways to improve our network service to our students and our community and this equipment takes us a long way,” said Prof. Fui.

The set of equipment according to Prof Fui came out of the network of the Victoria University of Wellington (VUW) with which NUS also has a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).  “Though the equipment did not come directly under that MOU but I wish thank (VUW) for making these (equipment) available to help our internet and server,” added Prof Fui.

Part of the new set of switches and a new server have been installed since the arrival of two NSRC network engineers last weekend, who have been assisting and training the NUS ICT staff. 

“We have configured a server that we can use to see how many users, how much traffic and it really manages links in and out,” said Dean Pemberton, NSRC Network Engineer and Trainer.  “Not only it allows the university to manage the internet bandwidth that it has today but brings it also to a stage where it is ready to accept more internet as well.”

Pemberton and colleague Philip Smith’s trip to Samoa was fully funded by the University of Oregon and had paid for equipment’s shipment to Samoa.

With Samoa’s plans around the Samoa Internet Exchange (SIX), the NUS can now house a much broader network system.

“Hopefully we can now deploy these so that the network here can grow in size but also a little bit more manageable as well,” added Pemberton.  “We can now deploy such infrastructure and management systems like this that will make (NUS) a lot closer to being able to join SIX.”

About NSRC

The Network Startup Resource Center (NSRC) is a nonprofit organization, based at the University of Oregon, that supports deployment of Internet research and education networks in academic institutions and non-governmental organizations throughout the Asia Pacific region, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East, and newly Independent States. NSRC receives major funding and in-kind donations from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Google and Google.org, Cisco, O'Reilly Media, Vint Cerf, the Richard M. Karp Foundation, IDRC, ISOC, and many other institutional and private donors.

In 1988, Randy Bush and John Klensin began providing pro bono technical support to network engineers in southern Africa. The program was formalized in 1992 with a grant from the US National Science Foundation, and activities expanded to Egypt, Indonesia, Kenya, Liberia, Morocco, Peru, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Togo, and many others.NSRC officially moved to the University of Oregon in 1996 and operated as a service of the Computing Center until 2011. The Center is currently administered as a collaboration of the University Libraries and the Office of the Vice-President for Research and Innovation.

NSRC provides funding for different Network Operator Groups throughout the world and in-kind equipment and publications necessary to establish Internet connections. As of 2011, over in-kind support valued at over $40 million USD had been provided in more than 100 countries. The NSRC's educational programs include workshops, seminars, hands-on technical training and short courses around the world and at the University of Oregon. Beginning in 2012, NSRC has added digital library development and archival practice to its portfolio of workshops.

Misa Vicky Lepou is a media and journalism lecturer and website news administrator at the National University of Samoa.  For more information, visit us on www.nus.edu.ws, or visit NUS Media and Journalism School and NUS Facebook Pages.

NUS expands ICT network: NUS VC & President Prof. Fui Tu’ua Īlaoa Asofou So’o, NSRC Senior Network Engineer Philip Smith, NSRC Network Engineer and Trainer Dean Pemberton and NUS ICT Director Matā’afā Ratami Fatilua.

NUS ICT Staff Training: NSRC Senior Network Engineer Philip Smith, NUS IT Technician Kovati Simalu, NUS Team Leader Network Services Kapeni Matatia and NSRC Network Engineer and Trainer Dean Pemberton.

The second round of VEX Robotics Samoa competition is taking place at the National University of Samoa (NUS) this week.

The competition aims at drawing interests of local college students to trial out robotic projects that showcase their knowledge, skills and attitudes through science and maths subjects.

The first Samoa VEX Robotics competition was trialled last year with six colleges including St. Mary’s, Samoa College, Church College, Aana No.1, Robert Louis Stevenson Secondary and Le Amosa.

Facilitating this project is led by the Faculty of Science (FOS) at NUS, the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture (MESC) and National Manager of Kiwibots NZ, Chris Hamling, with the greater aim to get more students to take up an interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM subjects) as their areas of study.

Such initiative was driven on the basis that the education sector continues to face such challenge though it has made progress in the promotion of science and maths as a teaching priority area for teacher training.

“The VEX Robotics program presents an opportunity to invest in the long term supply of science and maths teachers as well as science-related professionals, scientists, engineers, mathematicians, statisticians, data analysts and innovators,” said Peseta Dr. Desmond Lee Hang, Dean of FOS.

“Last year’s trial competition shows that we have taken the right steps in the right direction to plant the seed that will pave the way for a Samoan team to go to the US for the VEX World Championship in the future,” added Peseta.

The VEX Robotics World Championship Competition brings together the best student teams from around the world to compete in the US once every year. 

“The NZ team have been world champions since they entered the competition in 2009,” said Peseta.  “While we do not expect to file a Samoan team soon to compete, the great interest shown by parents, teachers, students and the public during the trial shows that we have taken the right step.”

“What we have learnt from this competition is that it provides a level playing field for all schools to have a fair go in robotics.”

“This is exemplified by the fact that Aana No.1 College won the finals of the pilot VEX Robotics Samoa competition.”

Six more colleges have joined this year including Avele, Chanel, Faleata, Leififi, Faatuatua and St. Joseph’s.

The Samoa Vex Robotics Competition was made possible through the generosity of the following sponsors: Dr John Hodgson of Auckland, Toleafoa Douglas Creevey and Bluesky Samoa Ltd, Fiti Leung Wai of SSAB, Isikuki Punivalu and Associates Engineering and Management Consultants,  Tisaan Graphics, Kiwibots NZ and NUS.

VEX is not an acronym but it is a work chosen as the brand name according to Wikipedia.

(Sitting) l-r: Chris Hamling - VEX Robotics NZ; Vau Peseta - Acting CEO MESC; Hon Magele Mauiliu Magele - Minister of MESC, NUS and SQA; Rev Muao Fagasua - Officiating Minister.

(Standing) l-r: Jenny Lauano - ACEO Teacher Development MESC; Professor Leasilolagi Dr. Malama Meleisea - Director CSS NUS; Peseta Des Lee Hang - Dean of Science NUS; Merryl Hamling - VEX Robotics NZ.

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