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New English Language Support For Pacific Students

The Government today announced initiatives to improve learning opportunities for Pacific students who speak English as a second language.

In announcing the initiatives, Associate Education Minister Lianne Dalziel and Pacific Island Affairs Minister Mark Gosche said an extra $6.3 million, spread over four years, would be injected into the compulsory school sector for Pacific ESOL education and professional development as part of the Government's literacy strategy.

Lianne Dalziel said the funding would assist schools and teachers of Pacific students through ESOL development programmes that include teacher and parent support, and teacher training.

"The funding will be spread out starting with $300,000 in the 2001 calendar year, and then $2 million each year for three years from 2001/2002. This will provide for between 40 and 50 whole school professional development programmes and allow up to 75 teachers a year for the next three years to receive training towards qualifications in teaching English as a second language.

"By improving teacher and parent capability we will improve learning outcomes for students. Over the long term, social factors will undoubtedly reflect the results of these initiatives with children staying at school longer and reducing absenteeism," Lianne Dalziel said.

Mark Gosche said there was a clear need to provide intensive English language support to Pacific children.

"Many of our Pacific children are still considerably behind where they should be for their age in English language reading, writing, speaking and listening," he said.

"We know however that where a whole school approach has been taken, the children definitely do better. This whole school approach means strategies to help teachers across all subjects, and to involve parents, in working on language learning and development.

"However while we want Pacific youngsters growing up with the same opportunities as their schoolmates - it does not mean we want them to be the same as everyone else because we know there is a huge value in keeping our language, culture and identity," Mark Gosche said.


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