It’s not often that we give our young people a chance to lead, to make decisions and to know that with this leadership and decision-making, comes other responsibilities.
Many church and social youth groups in Samoa are led by ‘youths’ who are in their 30s so many young people grow up never having had the chance to learn, make mistakes and practice leadership and group skills on their own.
Our culture also leans more towards a “listen to your elders and do as they say” type system rather than shared opinions by everyone which are respected.
But leadership and decision-making is what is being fostered and encouraged at the High Tech Youth Studio in Vaivase, and in fact celebrated.
Newly-named Le Tuiga Samoa, by a representative workshop group of the many, young people who flock there, ‘ownership’ of the premises and everything that comes out of it is now very much genuinely shared.
Right from the start when the former Samoa College boarding facility was being renovated, it was the young people who chose the colours for the interior.
Simply by demanding that these young people themselves make these decisions, was very new to our youth.
Simply put, they decorated it; they named it, it’s theirs.
Initially funded by the New Zealand government, NZ will hand it over to the Samoan government in 2019.
The facility boasts a film studio, music studio, adobe suite programmes, animation programmes and space for community engagement.
They welcome people of the ages between 8 - 26 years, people with disabilities, out of school learners and those who identify as LGQBT.
But perhaps what sets Le Tuiga apart from other educational facilities in Samoa is the learning method that is practiced and promoted there.
Some have called it learning by doing, others peer learning and it is definitely both those methods.
Trying things out, experimenting, watching others around you and communicating with other students beside you and online is all encouraged.
Asking the In Country Manager Moananu and the Studio Producer, Khosrow to do it for you, is not.
Moananu Tyrone Laurenson is excited about the possibilities and has already got many success stories to tell.
“This method of learning will revolutionise how information is shared amongst young people connected internationally to then expand and build on to create and invent. It’s about everybody talking, communicating and being creative. It’s just amazing what they can come up with when given a safe space to think and create.”
“The mantra for the High Tech is about expanded learning opportunities and it revolves around three things: culture, community and technology.
“Samoa is unique in my view, in that those other countries, like New Zealand, Fiji and the United States -- English is their first language, whereas in Samoa, it is not. We’re actually meeting all the criteria and core values of this organisation.
We should be able to truly meet the culture aspect with our Matai system, we have the village system - all the structure is in place in terms of culture. So we have all that, where other countries may not have.
“So that’s what excites us. In terms of technology, our argument is that we already have a demonstration of old technology, in things like the pe’a, the malu and the ie toga.”