24 Nov 2012

Pacific adviser resigns over school languages policy

5:37 pm on 24 November 2012

A member of the Minister of Pacific Island Affairs advisory council has resigned over government policy for Pacific languages in schools.

Galumalemana Alfred Hunkin, a senior lecturer in Samoan at Victoria University, says he is frustrated that the latest Pasifika Education Plan ignores what Pacific communities want.

His protest follows the Raise Pasifika coalition's decision to remove its name as a co-author of the plan.

Mr Hunkin said the plan repeats platitudes about the importance of Pacific languages, without any commitment to funding them in schools.

He believed the Government's plans to lift the performance of Pacific students will continue to fail as long as it assumes that literacy in English is the only path to success.

International evidence proves that bilingualism improves educational achievement, he said.

The Labour Party said Mr Hunkin's resignation shows that Education Minister Hekia Parata is failing in the area of Pacific education.

Pacific Islands Affairs spokesperson Su'a William Sio says it's a strong signal that the minister has got it wrong and she should reinstate support for bilingual teaching of Pacific languages in schools.