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The importance of supporting Pasifika student success

Luamanuvao Winnie Laban, Assistant Vice Chancellor (Pasifika) Victoria University, discusses why it is important to New Zealand as a nation that Pasifika students are successful in education.



My name is Luamanuvao Winnie Laban and I am the assistant vice chancellor for Victoria University and I hold an associate professor role.  I was talking about, weaving in the sense of being strong and your knowledge of who you are and where you come from, and the importance of cultural values and the importance of our languages is not seen as just outside the classroom door, but an integral part of one’s education, that our children come from a context of history, culture and language and how important all teachers understand that and are informed about that. It’s in our interests to support, in any way possible, increased Pasifika participation and success. And as I said in the keynote this morning, it starts from birth and then it’s early childhood, and then it’s primary, secondary, intermediate extra tertiary. We know we are challenged because our numbers as not as great, say as Asian and European, but we have a brain too, and it’s important that we claim our place among those numbers who are exceeding in education, but also that translates to better jobs and more decision making roles.

I’m very excited and very hopeful about Pasifika Education, because for me, Pasifika success matters to all New Zealanders. It’s very important Pasifika and Maori do well in education. The fastest growing youth demographic is Pasifika, Maori and Asian, and it’s important that we do well in their education because one, it continues to build the country in terms of its economic future, and social future and culture future, but also we’re part of the pacific, and so that adds value in all of those forms. And our values and our language and our cultures are a significant part of that x-factor that Pasifika people bring to education.  Parents also birth children and they were birthed by their parents, the grandparents and the great grandparents. We don’t see children as individuals, they are about families and communities. And education is short-sighted if we don’t look at creative ways of engaging our families in a non-judgemental way and in a way they can participate f they’ve got three part time jobs that is not very practical, so we have to think of creative and innovative ways to support our parents. Now you know that our Pacific people, they feel very strongly in terms of the va.  That teachers are paid to teach our children and that’s their job, but what we need to inspire and encourage them to say is that education is also in the home, it’s in the community, it’s in the church, it’s within the extended family. They all need to be lined up to support their children in order to do well.