New Zealand Pacific Language Teachers Appeal After Funding Cut

The New Zealand government has released a new 10-year Pacific education action plan which details the future of Pacific language education in the country, “Supporting Pacific Success- Action Plan for Pacific Education 2020-2030.” The action plan replaces an initial plan put forth by the government—the Pasifika Education Plan. The new action plan replaces a commitment to growing Pacific bilingual and immersion education plan and replaced it with language of “an initial focus on needs arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.”

According to the NZ Herald, the change means that the 40 schools that have units teaching in Pacific languages will continue to have no state funding for teacher training, books or other resources.

The vision of the Action Plan is that diverse Pacific learners and their families feel safe, valued and equipped to achieve their education aspirations. It identifies five key focus areas for change that are needed to achieve this vision:

  1. Working reciprocally with diverse Pacific communities to respond to unmet needs, with an initial focus on needs arising from the COVID-19 pandemic;
  2. Confronting systematic racism and discrimination in education;
  3. Enabling every teacher, leader, and education professional to take coordinated action to become culturally competent with diverse Pacific learners;
  4. Partnering with families to design education opportunities together with teachers, leaders and educational professionals so aspirations for learning and employment can be met; and
  5. Growing, retaining, and valuing highly competent teachers, leaders and educational professionals of diverse Pacific heritages.

However, many educators feel that the changes in the action plan fall short of what Pacific language communities need.

Fa’atili Iosua Esera, principal of Sutton Park School in Māngere East and president of the Samoan Language Teachers’ Association Fagasa, told the NZ Herald about the 2010 temporary funding pause, “It was supposed to be a pause, but it’s been a very long pause,” he said. “I feel that they have let us down.”

However, Associate Minister Jenny Salesa said she plans to make “an announcement on funding for Pacific bilingual and immersion education in the next few weeks”.

“Prior to decisions about Budget 2020, no new funding had been exclusively earmarked for Pacific bilingual and immersion education,” she said.

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