Focus On Education For Pacific Islands People

  • Wyatt Creech

The Government is making sure that Pacific Islands peoples in New Zealand have the skills to do well in this country.

Education Minister Wyatt Creech and Pacific Island Affairs Minister Tuariki Delamare have released a special report on what has been achieved in the past two years, since the Ministry of Education launched its strategic plan for Pacific Islands Education in New Zealand, Ko e Ako 'a e Kakai Pasifika.

"Education is extremely important to Pacific Islands families. In fact, one of the fundamental reasons for them settling in this country is to gain a good education. Our goal is to make sure this happens.

"To achieve this goal, we have to work with parents, families, communities, schools and other providers," said the Ministers. "Pacific Islands peoples in New Zealand must have the opportunity to participate fully and to achieve their full potential in education."

Mr Creech and Mr Delamare said the plan put together for the first time policies and programmes to help raise Pacific Islands students' achievement.

"Good progress has been made, especially in the early childhood sector. The plan will continue to be refined and developed to meet the changing education needs of Pacific Islands peoples.

"There has been huge success in linking Pacific Islands families with schools and moving Pacific Islands early childhood groups through to licensed and chartered status. These initiatives will be strengthened in the years ahead and will have positive flow-on results into the school sector."

Forty-seven Pacific Islands early childhood centres are now licensed and chartered.

"Since 1996, with the Ministry of Education as facilitator, strategic groups have been set up to support and implement the plan and network with the community," said Mr Creech and Mr Delamare.

"These include an external Pacific Islands Advisory Group, an internal Pacific Islands education Overview Group, the Pacific Islands Team, and the Pacific Islands Caucus. These groups are now raising the profile of

Pacific Islands education throughout New Zealand, enhancing feedback from Pacific Islands communities, and helping to raise the Pacific Islands capability of the Ministry.

"The Ministry of Education will continue to promote Ko e Ako 'a e Kakai Pasifika with Pacific Islands education stakeholders and see that its goals are always relevant to the education needs of our Pacific Islands people. During 1998/99, the plan will be developed further and it's goals refined to reflect ongoing policy development.

"The plan's goals have been used to develop education programmes funded through Vaka Ou, the Pacific Islands Employment Strategy, enhancing Pacific Islands peoples employment prospects. From July 1999, these programmes will have ongoing funding:

Pacific Islands School-Parent-Community-Liaison Project
Early Childhood Discretionary Grants Scheme ­ Pacific Islands Pool
Anau Ako Pasifika
Licensing Project

"We want schools and providers to continue to give high priority to the education of Pacific Islands peoples," Mr Creech said.