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Group Slates Pasifika Education Plan

Media Release Nov 29 2012 No embargo

Group Slates Pasifika Education Plan

The government’s recently released Pasifika Education Plan has wasted 'a golden opportunity' to foster Pacific Island languages, says TESOLANZ president Dr Hilary Smith.

Dr Smith said the final plan had caused groups like TESOLANZ to question the value of presenting evidence to the Select Committee, only to have it ignored.

'The plan appears to be completely vague on the question of how it will help maintain and develop Pasifika languages and it’s deeply disappointing that no firm provision has been made for the development of bilingual units for Pasifika children.

'The Pacific Island community has been asking for resources and money to foster their languages for several decades and we absolutely support their cause. There is overwhelming evidence that young Pasifika children gain confidence in their own languages and that helps them acquire general academic literacy and skills, including in English.

'International studies show the use of a first language in early childhood education results in better social and academic outcomes for children, including children from minority groups.'

Children who are highly proficient in two languages have cognitive advantages in some problem-solving tasks, and evidence shows they can use both languages appropriately, even mixing them in the same sentence to communicate effectively.

Dr Smith said children learn best when their home culture is valued, and their language is an intrinsic part of that.

She said the fact that the prominent Samoan leader, Afioga Galumalemana Alfred Hunkin, had resigned from the Pacific Advisory Council over the issue 'spoke volumes'.

'Afioga Galumalemana says the plan has little substance nor the resources financially or otherwise to make it useful or meaningful – we’re inclined to agree,' she says.

ENDS

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