NZ Minister rejects more support for Pasifika bilingual
New Zealand's Education Minister rebuffs calls for Pasifika bilingual schooling to get more staffing and pay.
New Zealand's Education Minister is rebuffing a call for Pasifika bilingual schooling to get similar staffing and pay incentives to kura kaupapa Maori.
Two south Auckland schools say their Samoan bilingual units need better support from the Government if it's serious about raising Pasifika achievement.
Karen Mangnall reports.
The Government wants 85 percent of Pasifika children at or above the national standards for literacy and numeracy by 20-17. The principal of Finlayson Park School, Shirley Maihi, is sceptical.
SHIRLEY MAIHI: I believe they've plucked targets out of the air and they don't even know what they are talking about. They would not even have a clue of how to get our children up to 85 percent.
Finlayson Park has more than 220 Samoan bilingual students, who are the school's high achievers.
Shirley Maihi says the Ministry of Education wants them to succeed, but isn't providing enough resources.
SHIRLEY MAIHI: Now they're very happy to resource Maori, then it should be resourced, Maori should be, but Pasifika if they were to have real effect on our children's learning the ministry needs to have the resourcing that goes along with the expected achievement levels.
Clendon Park School has 130 students in its Samoan bilingual unit. The principal, Sue Dawson, says the Education Ministry doesn't support Samoan bilingual education and that has to change.
SUE DAWSON: It needs to be really valued, the same as Maori bilingual is, now the teachers who teach in Maori bilingual all have a MITA [Maori Immersion Teacher Allowance] unit which is like 4000 dollars on top of their basic wage. Those are small but significant things to us.
Sue Dawson would like something similar for Samoan bilingual teachers.
SUE DAWSON: They have to work twice as hard because they need to make their resources to do their teaching so they have got enough adequate appropriate resources to be using with our Samoan students.
Pasifika Education Plan acknowledges bilingual education in early childhood and at college, but Sue Dawson says primary schools are left out.
SUE DAWSON: There's nothing that's going to say that this is something we value and we are going to give schools additional staffing see Maori bilingual is staffed on one to 18, Samoans one to 27-point-five.
But the Minister of Education, Hekia Parata, says there is a distinction to be drawn.
HEKIA PARATA: The reason why we put that kind of investment into te reo Maori and into kura kaupapa is because this language is the language of this country, and we are already struggling to keep te reo Maori alive and well-spoken so I think making that comparison as if it was just another language is not an appropriate one.
And Ms Parata signalled that bilingual education in schools isn't the Government's priority.
HEKIA PARATA: Where Pasifika communities want their own language to be the first language of instruction we are investing into the early childhood space to make sure that literacy in whatever language is well founded before going on into school.
Hekia Parata says there's nothing to stop Pasifika communities if they want a bilingual unit at a school. Boards of trustees can decide to set one up, and redirect resources to do so.
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