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Celebration Of Family Commitment To Education

Celebration Of Family Commitment To Education

Last night approximately 500 people celebrated the graduation of 57 parents who spent a year learning alongside their children at their primary school and early childhood centre.

The celebration, held at the Aorere College school hall, is the culmination of a year-long programme called the Manukau Family Literacy Programme, which results in parents graduating with a Certificate in Introduction to Early Childhood Education from AUT.

The programme, co-ordinated by the City of Manukau Education Trust (COMET), has been held at six school sites across Manukau City. At one of these, Rowandale School, the parents included two husband-and-wife teams, a brother and sister, and a grandmother and her adult daughter – all of whom have whanau members who attend the school.

Anna Jefferson and her husband Ash Toamio are Niuean. They both committed to the programme at the beginning of this year. Every day, they attended school and worked with their AUT lecturer to learn about child development, the philosophy of early childhood education programmes and parenting. They also learned basic skills in mathematics, about family health and nutrition, computing, and career planning. They regularly visited their child’s classroom to observe and help their child learn.

As well as going to school each day, Anna and Ash also held down jobs. At the end of each day, Anna had a cleaning job from 3 to 5 pm and another one from 5 to 9pm. Ash then did a night shift.

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“Even though we were very busy, it was a fun programme,” says Anna. “The best thing about it was helping my son at school. I also learned a lot about myself.” Anna is planning to do a Diploma in Early Childhood Education (Pasifika) from the AUT next year, and wants to be an early childhood teacher. Ash is keen to be a sports coach and referee, and is hoping to enrol in a Sports programme as his next step.

Ash’s sister Sandra Toamio also joined the programme, and Sandra’s daughter Tara also “got off the couch” to come along. All have completed the academic requirements to achieve the Certificate.

As a result of the Certificate, the parents are entitled to enrol in higher level diploma and degree programme - and a study has shown this will increase their future earnings. A PricewaterhouseCoopers study of the programme’s outcomes last year showed that families can improve their income by over $200 per week by completing the programme.

“The investment in funding these programmes is economically worthwhile,” says COMET CEO Bernardine Vester. “Not only that: family literacy has an impact across the whole family. Last night’s celebration of over 500 people showed how communities of learning can grow. Engaging the whole family in learning builds community well-being.”

Guest speaker was Oscar Kightley. His inspirational message acknowledged the value of “feeling the shame, but getting up there and doing it anyway”.


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