Pacific leaders inspired by creative approach to learning in NZ

Aotearoa's only tertiary high school, designed to pick up students who the education system is failing, has helped inspire Pacific leaders who are facing serious educational challenges back home.

Education ministers and staff from 18 Pacific countries are in New Zealand for their inaugural conference and today visited Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT), which showcased a number of initiatives.

Pacific countries have been hit hard by climate change and disasters including cyclones, Covid-19 and a cost of living crisis.

Fiji's Education Minister Aseri Radrodro said that's what makes this meeting critical.

"This is a very good time to see how the other Pacific Islands are also addressing similar issues they are confronted with daily."

Kiribati Education Minister Alexander Teabo said his country of 33 islands stretched across three million square kilometres of ocean makes it logistically hard, not to mention expensive, to provide education there.

"We try our best because we know education is our investment," he said.

The group are hoping to take some of the initiatives and ideas they are seeing here and use them to boost their own systems.

At MIT they see a different type of learning, small classes and teacher care has made a difference to students going through the School of Secondary Tertiary Studies.

Herbert Tuitufuga said he went through a tough time at his mainstream school but his life changed when he enrolled at SSTS.

"I decided to make that decision and get my life back on track and then I just came here and enrolled and since then my journey has been overall positive and amazing."

He said he is on track to finish NCEA level 1 and "hopefully if I work hard enough, then I will create my own company and help out Mum and Dad".

Fellow student Karena Togi, who is about to do a plumbing course, said the school has been a gamechanger for her and her brothers.

"We are able to build relationships with the teachers, they treat us like people, they treat us like adults, that we are not just some kid from the street."


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