Thousands of parents and supporters flooded the Samoa College grounds on Wednesday morning to sit and tapuai in support their children, just 13 to 14 years old, as they took the two-test entrance exam for Samoa College.
Samoa College School Principal Ms Karene Faasisila said over 930 students from primary schools across Samoa had registered to sit the entrance exam that comprises a two-hour English paper, followed by a two-hour Math paper. They had several no-shows and several more who turned up that morning wanting to sit. Close to 50 did not show up, and over 30 came in to register on the day. Altogether, just over 930 students are vying for a spot.
Last year 778 students sat the entrance exam, with 182 students or 23% of being able to make the cut. Ms Faasisila says the number they are able to take for the 2022 Year 9 class remains the same this year, around 180. That is a mere 19% of students showing an interest to attend Samoa College next year.
Ms Faasisila said she does sympathise with the hundreds of students who miss out every year, however, the college is only able to offer placings for five Year 9 classes, which they try to max at 35 students per class.
Thousands of supporters were spread across the grounds of Samoa College at Vaivase-Tai, in eager anticipation of their children’s efforts. The tapuaiga of parents, grandparents, family and even school principals and teachers from primary schools across Upolu and Savaii waited prayerfully for hours, with hopes that their children would get a place in one of Samoa’s most prestigious colleges, established in 1953.
Last year, Samoa College achieved a 100% success rate of Year 13 students who made it into the NUS University Preparatory Year (UPY).
Vilo Pua, a 50 year old father from Papa Sataua in Savaii travelled across with his daughter on the last ferry on Tuesday afternoon. “The most important thing for me is to make sure my children get a good education,” said Vilo who has older children attending colleges in Upolu. “It’s not easy living apart from my children.. When they leave to attend high school in Upolu, it’s like a part of my body has been taken away,” he shares. “I don’t have much income, and there are always so many faalavelave, but I always make sure to put aside money for my children’s schooling,” he said.
Veronica Fautua Folau is a mother who works for the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF). Her daughter, Chennile Fautua attends primary school at St Therese, in Fusi Savaii. Chennile travelled across on the last ferry from Savaii on Tuesday afternoon, and stayed with her mom at Faleula in preparation for the exams.
“I live here in Upolu during the week because of my job,” says Mrs Folau, “but I am happy that my transfer to the Savaii office has just been approved, so I can be closer to my family”.
In preparation for the exams, Chennile says she studied English and Maths with her teachers at St Therese, and then she and her mother have been fasting and praying. “We fasted from 12 midnight last night,” she says.
The exams are set and marked by the 10 Samoa College teachers who teach Math and English. Throughout this week, they will be working late into the night to mark the papers and have the results released within a week.
“We hope to have the results out by Sunday, otherwise, with the increased numbers this year, we could be looking to Monday,” said Ms Faasisila.
The Samoa College Entrance Exam results will be published on the Samoa Global News website and shared on its social media platforms, to be accessed for free by the public.