Parent involvement ‘key’ for Pacific Island student success

Pacific Island students at school. Image/Wikimedia
Pacific Island students at school. Image/Wikimedia

For Pacific Island families the ‘home’ is central to building a foundation that includes first language, religion and values, according to Statistics New Zealand.

An Education Review Office (ERO) spokesperson says: “Pacific parents often see themselves as their children’s first teachers.

“Parents who have difficulties with their literacy are more likely to be able to support their children’s achievement when they have an opportunity to increase their own skills.”

Statistics New Zealand’s findings show the qualification of the primary caregiver (usually the mother) is an important factor in school success.

An increasing proportion of primary caregivers of school-aged children have at least a degree-level qualification, with Pacific primary caregivers showing the greatest increase since 2001 from 2.8 per cent in 2001 to 5.3 per cent in 2006.

In 2006, 18 per cent of Pakeha primary caregivers, 7.5 per cent of Maori caregivers and 30 per cent of Asian caregivers had degrees.

In the recent consultation on the National Standards in literacy and mathematics, Pacific parents were the group most interested in having timely information about their children’s progress, and ideas or resources they could use at home.

Overall, Pacific parents want to know how well their children are doing at school and what they can do to help their child.

“My youngest daughter brought home a report that included a sample of how she did her maths. I really appreciated the sample because I saw how her maths is done differently and I can see where I can help her at home,” says one Cook Islands parent in an Education and Pacific Peoples in New Zealand report from Statistics New Zealand.

The Education Review Office says, ideally, governance of schools should match the communities they serve and the number of Pacific school trustees is on the rise.

In December 2008, 19.7 per cent of the boards of trustee’s members in schools were of Pacific ethnicity. This represents a 16 percent increase from the proportion of Pacific school trustees in 1998 (17.0 per cent), but a slight reduction from 2004 (19.9 percent).

Overall Statistics New Zealand shows an increase in Pacific parent participation, in the area of governance, with female parent trustees on the rise. In 2008, 56.7 per cent of Pacific trustees were female compared with 52.6 of non-Pacific trustees.

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