Principals urgent meeting reveals lack of action on commission's recommendations

    The Tonga Secondary Schools Principals Association (TSSPA) meeting today had only one agenda – to urgently look at a report they received in 2008 after a taskforce was commissioned to investigate and submit recommendations on how to eliminate violence among secondary schools.  

    The meeting was called after an attack in a home at the village of Koloua, Tofoa on Thursday 18 by Tupou College students where a Tonga College student , Taniela Mahe 15 was just recovered this week  in hospital and an ex-student Taniela Halahuni 21 is  in a coma.

    The president of TSSPA, Fr ‘Aisake Vaisima told Kaniva News school fights in Tonga are now an inter-secondary schools issue.

    “Too long it has been left to the respective schools to solve their problems. Now it is everybody’s problem and we (other schools) must work together to find appropriate solutions,” Fr Vaisima said.

    Fr. Vaisima, the Principal of Apifo’ou College believed TSSPA has not done enough to address the report recommendations made available since the last 5 years.

    "The findings point to the fact that more work needs to be done to follow up. This has not been diligently followed after the report.” he said.

    “ As an Association we will make time to extend this work further. The nature of the violence is basically “crowd” (groups)  sourced in its historical background and its occurrences in the past up to the present. A solution must therefore be of the same nature,” he told Kaniva News.

    The taskforce and its report were a joint effort by the Ministry of Education, TSSPA, Police and the then Ministry of Youth and Employment.

    It recommended in its 2008 report “that the Minister of Education, Women’s Affairs and Culture looks into commission further investigation into the problems and the social, psychological, academic and economic factors that influence students and those who support them and to come forth with the appropriate mechanisms for providing the appropriate assistance and support".

    Parts of its recommendations said “the education systems should put in place a system for restricting the use of mobile phones and radio within the school compound with the assistance of the Tonga Secondary School Principal Association.”

    Kaniva News understands that since 2008 fights between secondary schools persisted not only between Tupou College and Tonga College  but also  Liahona High School.

    In a Radio Tonga report on March 2012 it said  “since  the start of the new academic year, boys from 3 schools – Tonga College, Tupou College and Liahona High School – have been fighting each other every Friday afternoon. One reason behind the fights is sports rivalry  – and text messages seem to encourage it,” the report said.

    In October 2012 fights continued among schools students.  The Assistant Commissioner of Police , Soakai Motu’a Puaka told Radio ABC “the problems has been they start through the telephone, call through text and all that. They text each other, they text each other's numbers and chase things there, talking about a girlfriend or a boyfriend, things like that. And sometimes they radio a program, talk back program radio. The kids call the radio and sometimes the radio is not careful enough, spark all these problems and also the competitions, like sports, rugby and so forth,” 

    Other recommendations by the taskforce in its report  included suggestion made for a commission "to be undertaken by a competent official who will report to the Minister. It called for police to continue investigation into communities where there are likelihoods of activities that would indoctrinate students into substance abuse and violence"

    Police have to investigate “students who are offenders and ensuring that they are prosecuted and brought into Court for punishment that information on offenders are kept in a database for future use …a separate investigation be made on students who are neglected by their parents and bring them into counseling,” it said.

    Police investigation was also recommended for "students who are offenders and   ensuring that they are prosecuted and brought into Court for punishment that information on offenders are kept in a database for future use…a separate investigation be made on students who are neglected by their parents and bring them into counseling"

    The recent attack by Tupou College students against the Tonga College students and an ex-student was apparently been well organized, foreseen by some in the communities and it was aided by a Tupou College male teacher who was arrested and charged by police in relation to the attack.

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