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Education funds well spent on Pacific learners

Education funds well spent on Pacific learners

  • 14 Nov 2022
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(Picture caption: Education projects led by Pacific providers are proving to be extremely effective.) 

An interim evaluation report on Pacific Education Support and Innovation funds has found many of the education projects led by Pacific providers have been extremely effective.

The Ministry of Education’s Action Plan for Pacific Education (2020) included a focus on working with diverse Pacific communities and a commitment to responding to needs emerging from COVID-19.

Minister for Pacific Peoples and Associate Minister of Education Hon Aupito William Sio says a key priority for the Government is ensuring Pacific learners and families are safe, valued and equipped to achieve their aspirations.

“These funds are a reflection of our government’s commitment to our Pacific communities, aiga and learners in providing quality educational opportunities and support, particularly during the pandemic where our communities were at their most vulnerable,” he says.

Budget 2020 provided for two key funds – the Pacific Education Support Fund ($39.7m over four years); and the Pacific Education Innovation Fund – ($6m available each year until 2023/24 across 10 regions).

The Pacific Education Support Fund was established to fund community providers, groups and organisations to support learners and their families to meet education related and wellbeing needs arising from and/or exacerbated by COVID-19.

It has aimed to support Pacific learners and families to engage in education during the COVID-19 response and help learners and families access support services.

Meanwhile the Pacific Education Innovation Fund supported innovative practices which assist Pacific learners’ and their families wellbeing and curriculum needs which have been affected by COVID-19.

Pacific bilingual and immersion education have been key focuses of this fund.

The interim report includes case studies from 27 projects developed and implemented from the first round (2020) of funding to date across multiple regions.

It focused on Pacific learners from early childhood education to secondary school students transitioning into tertiary studies/workforce.

As of June 30, 2022 a total of $23.1m has been allocated across 10 regions for the Support and Innovation Funds.

The report’s main findings include projects that created positive experiences were those which prioritised Pacific ways of being and doing (led by Pacific, for Pacific), were learner and family centred, and created a sense of belonging for learners.

It also found the devolved regional decision-making process strengthened the Ministry’s engagement and responsiveness to the needs of their communities, learners and families.

A key enabler for positive experiences and relationships was support from the Ministry and key contacts within schools for provider engagement and partnerships, and community leadership support was critical in implementing and embedding projects within communities and provider organisations

It states COVID lockdowns and restrictions meant disruptions to the programme delivery, challenges faced by educators and learners with the shift to online delivery and engagement, and heightened wellbeing and social support needs among Pacific communities; while increased community demand to take part in provider projects created pressure on providers.

Finally, delivering projects was a challenge for communities with multiple competing demands to accommodate busy lifestyles, large families and family responsibilities.

Minister Sio says he is pleased to read of the achievements of these funds and the high calibre of Pacific providers supporting our Pacific communities, aiga and learners.

“I look forward to welcoming more opportunities like this that enable our Pacific learners to continue to pursue educational success in Aotearoa New Zealand.”

Visit HERE to read the Action Plan for Pacific Education.