New initiative boosts Pacific culture
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New initiative supporting early childhood services to be strong in Pacific culture

by Freya Lucas

January 02, 2024

A new initiative rooted in Pacific culture is helping both teachers and pupils to thrive in early childhood education centres.


The Tāfesilafa’i initiative, which is embedded in fa’a Samoa (Samoa), is rebalancing the scales so that aoga amata (Samoan early childhood education centres) have the same access to support and resources as that of their mainstream equivalents.


Funding for the initiative comes from the New Zealand Governments Ministry of Education’s Pacific Education Innovation Fund, and aoga amata around the country are being provided with wrap-around support to both faiaoga (teachers) and students, and the initiative is underpinned by strong evidence that enhancing teacher wellbeing and child wellbeing leads to more nurturing learning environments.


Irene Palea’i-Foroti, Fa’atonusili, Director for Sosaiete Aoga Amata Sāmoa I Aotearoa (SAASIA), says she knows Tāfesilafa’i works as evidenced by growing rolls at a number of centres.


“While early learning centres (mainstream and language nests) attendance is in decline due to the ongoing effects of COVID-19, aoga amata attendance levels have increased,” Ms Palea’i-Foroti said.


“The continuing support from the stakeholders, who have been instrumental in establishing this initiative, to enable our aoga amata, teachers, children and parents to dream their dreams, to grow and to achieve what they may never have thought possible before.”


A critical element to Tāfesilafa’i is providing a place for faiaoga from aoga amata to come together, connect, and exchange resources, fostering confidence in incorporating Samoan culture into pedagogy.


It also identified the immediate stressors faiaoga experienced, and as a result the initiative is now ensuring aoga amata have the same access to support and resources as their mainstream equivalents. This has meant equipping faiaoga with laptops and allowing them to apply for external funding and source educational resources online – all of which was not happening prior to Tāfesilafa’i.


Tāfesilafa’i has the aspirations and ability to scale nationally, and as the initiative enters its fourth phase, Healthy Families Waitākere is looking to build capability and capacity of its sustainability partner, SAASIA, to carry the initiative forward.


Learn more about the initiative here

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