Red Alert

Will Pacific bilingual language education feature in the Pacific Education Plan announcement tomorrow?

Posted by on November 21st, 2012

Many in the Pacific community want to believe that Minister Hekia Parata’s announcement and release tomorrow of the Government’s Pacific Education Plan 2013-2017 will feature Pacific bilingual language education prominently. Given that whenever the Minister has spoken to a Pacific audience she has promoted the value of Pacific languages and has held herself up as an example of someone who has benefited from bilingualism, there is expectation that she would at least reinstate Pacific language bilingual goals that her Government removed in 2009 from the Pacific Education Plan 2008-2012.
The Pacific bilingual language goals are strongly supported by the wider Pacific communities. In fact when the former Minister of Education, Anne Tolley stopped the production of the Pacific language resources – the Tupu series (for Cook Islands, Vagahau Niue, Tokelau, Samoan and Tongan) and the Folauga journals (for Samoan learners) – being used by schools there was opposition from parents, teachers and researchers. This opposition quickly sent to parliament a 7000 signed petition calling on this Government to reinstate funding for these resources. The government still hasn’t responded to this petition.
Labour pressed the Education & Science committee to conduct an inquiry into Pacific bilingual language education to at least table the evidence that educators had in supporting Pacific bilingual language education. The government instead would only support a narrowly focussed inquiry into Pacific Language education in early childhood education.
Those in the Pacific education sector who made strong submissions in this inquiry may well feel that the smiles and nods they received from the government members might be a signal that their request for support would be positively responded to by the Minister’s announcement tomorrow.
However, I note that the Minister is announcing the Pacific Education Plan 2013-2017 from two primary schools that are not known to have Pacific language classes at all. That might be a signal in itself that the Pacific community will be sorely disappointed and that the struggle for the rights of our Pacific children to grow up learning and speaking in two or more languages will continue.

4 Responses to “Will Pacific bilingual language education feature in the Pacific Education Plan announcement tomorrow?”

  1. Ehoa says:

    How come the Min Pac Affairs haven’t forwarded you a copy? that’s disgraceful, this is a serious PI issue.

  2. Ehoa says:

    OIA this please and post.

  3. Richard says:

    Talofa Sua, Good further press release today as reported on radio NZ

    “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.”

    Yet again pacific peoples are treated as invisible and when push comes to shove bypassed or offered some sort of token offering. Lazy one dimensional policies that see the cost but never the value. Very much like immigration!

    The new generations of Pasifika, like our own kids (one in five families is cross cultural)badly need this sort of support. Language is the key to retaining identity and is linked to all sorts of social indicators.

    We can see the benefits for Maori in being bilingual. I’m sure Hekia P wouldn’t support the Hunn Report (assimilation) approach there but for Pasifika there’s the obligatory double standard. Applying consistent principles or historical lessons is a bit too much for some, it seems.

    Kia kaha! Keep speaking up. Fa’afetai/Malo


  4. EHOA says:

    Samoan elder resigns over New Zealand government education plan

    Posted at 21:27 on 23 November, 2012 UTC

    A long-serving member of the Minister of Pacific Island Affairs’ advisory council has resigned in protest at what he calls the Government’s lack of support for Pacific languages in schools.

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

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

    He says Government plans to lift the performance of Pacific students will continue to fail as long as they assume that literacy in English is the only path to success.

    Mr Hunkin says international evidence proves bilingualism improves educational achievement.

    — It’s bad when Galumalemana Hunkin gives up and walks…its time to have a good look at the Ministry and its Minister…too many Palagis have had it too easy there and too many PI are being booted out.
    Interesting exercise would be to check the staff turnover.