Seven female students have made history by becoming the first women to study at Don Bosco Technical College at Alafua.
In their bright yellow and green uniforms, the students are very happy to be given an opportunity to study at what was previously a male only school.
Luagutu Nofoasa Vaitagutu is one of the seven who jumped at the chance to join the Don Bosco school. “When I heard that Don Bosco was allowing girls to be part of the school, I wanted to join and to learn about other courses which are not offered to us in College.”
Luagutu is extremely thankful for this opportunity that has been presented to her.
The Don Bosco Technical college is held in the highest of regard amongst the people of Samoa; it has an extremely successful school-to-employment rate (95%) of graduates from last year have found jobs already) and is extremely affordable, even offering scholarships to the poorest of the poor who without education, would be stuck in the cycle of inter-generational poverty.
At 18 years old, Luagutu has a renowned sense of optimism about her schooling having transferred studies from Faleata College so she may follow her dream. "I want to become a mechanic and I also like the fact that the tuition fee is affordable for my family,” she said.
Principal Mane Su’a has always made a point of ensuring that funds are allocated to secure scholarships for students that are most in need of education and this will continue to be the case.
“Many of our students attend school on scholarships – these opportunities are for vulnerable students who do not have the financial support to cover school fees”. The first 30 underprivileged female applicants to the hospitality course will receive such scholarships to assist with their fees.
As the tourism industry continues to rise in Samoa, the school has commenced new courses to help young people find employment in these areas. Students have eagerly undertaken the sewing and cooking courses that are being offered under this overarching banner. In fact, over sixty young men and women have expressed great interest in learning how to sew, yet the school only has two machines! As such, a fundraiser drive has been initiated to help fulfill this requirement
Equally opportunity for all us is the surest path to equality for all.
Other female students, Vailoa Fito Fareni, from Vailoa Palauli and Sulata Naomi Urima, shared the same enthusiasm.
For Vailoa, she used to study at U.S.P. Savai'i. “I attended U.S.P. in Savai'i but my family did not have the money for my school fees. I am here now and will do my best to achieve my goal and learn new things,” she added.
Sulata Naomi Urima is excited about being in Don Bosco and is looking forward to what Don Bosco has to offer. “I am eager to be here and will be doing my very best to make my family proud and not regret their decision of sending me here,” said Urima.
Being in the school for a week now, they are sure that they are in the right place.
“A good future is all we're aiming for and what we hope to achieve during our time here in Don Bosco."
The girls join a thriving school community that has 200 students, 23 teachers and offers courses in carpentry, electrical, plumbing, welding and automotive fields.
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This article originally appeared in the Samoa Observer