Two schools, one in Samoa and one in New Zealand, same fate

History

From Roy Harker:

In 2004 the Pesega Primary (elementary) School operated by the LDS church, which was located on the same campus as the Church College of Western Samoa, was determined to be inadequate and was torn down. The decision was reached when local officials submitted information to those in authority in Salt Lake City, Utah. The church has a policy to provide education only where the government can not adequately do so and it was determined that it should not be rebuilt. That same policy has prompted the announced closure of the Church College of New Zealand in 2009.

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The government of Samoa was not able to absorb the children into the existing schools. Families who could afford it, have sent their students to other private schools in the Apia area but many children and families were without educational facilities.

Several teachers and other interested parties have developed 2 schools in the area which have persevered in the educating of these students. These schools have been valiant in their efforts but lacked the funds necessary to build a proper facility. They have a combined enrollment in excess of 300 students. They are accommodated in houses, fale and other inadequate structures.

At the time of the temple dedication in September of 2005, Dr. Nafanua Paul Cox, a former missionary to Samoa and prominent ethno-botanist visited the sites and was touched by the humble efforts to educate the children. He determined that something should be done. Through his efforts a lease has been acquired on church-owned property adjacent to the lower teacher’s village in Pesega.

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He has solicited donations from former missionaries and others to build a proper facility. The Ah Mu Foundation was formed to facilitate the building of the school. Dr. Cox joined forces with Dr. Namulau’ulu Gaugau Tavana of the National Tropical Botanical Gardens of the US and former Director of Education for the Church Schools in Samoa to negotiate a merger of the 2 schools and form a Board to operate the new school.

In late March they invited Roy Harker, another former Samoan missionary, to join the Foundation as the construction supervisor. All three traveled to Samoa in early April to make a formal announcement to the members of the school community. Afamasaga Dan Betham of Samoa, a prominent church leader and retired accountant, has also been appointed to the Foundation to oversee finances and disbursement of funds for construction of the school.

The Foundation members chose to name the school The Ah Mu Academy in honor of a chinese immigrant, Ah Mu, who settled in Samoa and was an early convert to the church. He donated much of the land to the church where Pesega is now located. Many prominent families in the church in Samoa have descended from this man.

Roy relocated to Samoa in early June with his wife Kathy to supervise construction.

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