Thursday, April 25, 2024

Report finds education funds well spent on Pacific learners

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, Minister Aupito Willam Sio said today.

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.

“A key priority for the Government is ensuring Pacific learners and families are safe, valued and equipped to achieve their aspirations,” the Minister said.

“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.”

Budget 20 provided for two key funds:

Pacific Education Support Fund – $39.7m over four years

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. The fund aims to support Pacific learners and families to engage in education during the COVID-19 response, and help learners and families access support services.

Pacific Education Innovation Fund – $6m available each year until 2023/24 across 10 regions

Targeted for innovative practices that support Pacific learners’ and their families wellbeing and curriculum needs which have been affected by COVID-19. Pacific bilingual and immersion education are key focuses of the 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. Focusing 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 are that:

  • Projects that created positive experiences were those that 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;
  • 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;
  • Community leadership support was critical in implementing and embedding projects within communities and provider organisations;
  • 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 amongst Pacific communities;
  • Increased community demand to take part in provider projects created pressure on providers;
  • Delivering projects was a challenge for communities with multiple competing demands to accommodate busy lifestyles, large families and family responsibilities.

“I am 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,” said Minister Sio.

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