The two schools on the island are under heavy public scrutiny this week over two separate incidents. The first incident involves allegations of bullying of a thirteen-year-old student by a Niue High school teacher, and the other incident involves students of Niue Primary school suspended for consuming alcohol on school grounds.
Nearly two weeks ago, the high school student was asked by the teacher to leave the class and to walk home in the middle of the school day. The student from Hakupu was seen walking towards his village by a motorist who found him upset and took him to family in Alofi.
BCN news was contacted by concerned elders from the village of Hakupu that this student now does not want to return to school.
BCN news reached out to the Director of Education Mrs. Birtha Togahai who said that the department will issue a statement once she has received the incident reports from the principal of the school.
The Minister of Education Hon. Sauni Togatule in response to BCN queries said that he supports the decisions of the department and like the Director is also satisfied with the handling of the situation by the school.
The incident was first made known on social media last week when the student’s father Brad Ikinepule posted his frustrations on Facebook at the teachers’ treatment of his son. He took the post down several hours later.
He told BCN news that the sad thing is that when he lost his father earlier this year, he decided to keep the promise to return to Niue where he was born and raised. His son also wanted to come to Niue with him.
Mr Ikinepule said there are not that many young Niuean kids born in New Zealand would want to live in Niue, but his son loved it. He said it saddened him to learn that his son, had endured bullying by teachers at the school about his uniform and his hair.
The Niuean tradition of the male members of the family growing their hair for the first year after the passing of his father was significant to his son.
Mr Ikinepule said that he thought after his meeting with the Principal of the school that the concerns about his son’s hair and his uniform was resolved.
Meanwhile, Niue Primary school is also trying to deal with its own embarrassing situation involving students and alcohol. The Director is also awaiting the final report of this incident but BCN news understands that some of the students were caught consuming alcohol on school grounds and have been suspended.
It is not clear the exact age of the students but some sources are saying that they are ten and eleven years old or how they were able to get access to the alcohol.
The Director of Education Mrs Birtha Togahai is also expecting the final incident report from the principal of Niue Primary school and will make a statement thereafter.
The Minister of Education Hon. Sauni Togatule says that he stands by the decisions of the department and the schools in the handling of these two incidents.
There are only two schools in Niue, one primary and early childhood school and one secondary school.