News Release

Educators See Bright Future for Youth

"When young people start to develop a vision of what they can achieve, they can embark on a wonderful journey of learning and becoming," according to Steve Coy, the new Pacific Area Education Manager for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"Many of our young people across the Pacific are doing just that," he says.

Sakeasi Delaibatiki, a young adult from Auckland, told hundreds of his peers at an education fireside in Christchurch recently that there were two priorities in his home growing up — the gospel of Jesus Christ and education.
"Nothing but the best was expected of me, especially with my academic studies," he said. His mother was his best supporter and example. After 23 years of rearing 11 children, she went back to school to obtain a midwifery degree. He said that he learned from his mother that "education is knowledge, knowledge is power, and power is money, in a temporal sense."

"But in a spiritual sense," he added, "education empowers me to make religious decisions and serve effectively and faithfully. Obtaining an education is a religious pursuit."

Brother Coy's role is unique in the world and was created to create resources and initiatives to support co-ordinators of the Church's (religious education) seminaries and institutes. His goal is to help children, youth and young single adults to achieve spiritual and secular educational outcomes.

Aleni Fuatimau, one of the Seminaries and Institutes coordinators in Samoa, believes there is a correlation between personal religious commitment of young people, and their desires for and efforts to improve themselves, such as in post-secondary study and vocational training.

"There are numerous spiritual and temporal blessings that come to those who take advantage of educational opportunities," he said.

Many times those opportunities are hard to see, he admits, especially when parents and peers have not had those options before, or when other cultural factors are at play. "That's where Church leaders, teachers, parents, and friends can step up and let our young people know that there are wonderful opportunities out there."

Information about some of these opportunities for young people in the Pacific Area can be found at a new 'Education Assistance' page on the New Zealand/Pacific Islands and Australian country websites.

Next month, Elder F. Michael Watson of the Pacific Area Presidency will conduct education firesides across Australia. He will be accompanied by Steven Wheelwright, President of Church-owned Brigham Young University-Hawaii. The Area Presidency education firesides are organized to encourage young people to aim high and work hard with respect to their educational and life goals.

Last month Pacific Area President Elder James J. Hamula told Latter-day Saint youth and their parents in Christchurch that "For the Latter-day Saint, education is not simply a good idea, it is a religious duty."


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