Teach better – What is literacy for Pasifika?


What’s the definition?

Being “literate as Pasifika” means:

Success in participation and access, in culture, in service and advocacy, and in economic terms (p.84).

Where does this definition come from?

Adult and Community Education (ACE) Aotearoa (2014). Pasifika Success As Pasifika: Pasifika Conceptualisations of Literacy for Success in Aotearoa New Zealand. Wellington: Adult and Community Education (ACE) Aotearoa   

What are some key features?

Importance of:

  • Skills in reading and writing in English, and in speaking, reading and writing one’s own Pacific heritage language to a high level.
  • Skills in oral and non-verbal communication.
  • Strength in identity and the knowledge of one’s Pacific cultural heritage. This includes knowledge of and respect for other cultures within Aotearoa New Zealand.
  • Possessing and living out a shared Pasifika values base.
  • Producing and reading cultural designs, patterns, and art forms with understanding.
  • Understanding and using digital technology.

How is this definition relevant to my teaching context?

Many of our learners are Pasifika as well. This is especially true if you live in a big centre like Auckland. Some of our learners might identify as both Māori and Pasifka.

As with our Māori learners, many have experienced repeated failure in the school system. Or at least a failure to progress at school and work in a way that compares with the rest of the population.

You can learn a lot from your Pasifika students if you take the time to get to know them and earn their respect. They really want to succeed and achieve, but as with our Māori learners, the system often seems to be against them when it comes to how they like to learn.

As we’ll see later, there are ways that you can tinker with your teaching to make things better for your Pasifika learners. Not only will it make you a better teacher, they’ll appreciate it.


Author: Graeme Smith

Education, technology, design. Also making cool stuff...

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