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Labour calls for inquiry into Pacific language education

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Labour will tomorrow ask the Education & Science Select Committee to conduct an inquiry into whether teaching children Pacific languages as well as English helps them succeed, says Su'a William Sio, Labour's spokesperson on Pacific Island Affairs.

"This will be an opportunity for all parties on the committee to manifest support for an issue that is very valuable to the future wellbeing of Pacific communities and their children," Su'a William Sio said.

"Labour's request follows on from a petition by Judy Taligalu McFall-McCaffery and John McCaffery and 6686 others, which called on the National government to fully fund the resourcing of Pacific language bilingual education.

"This petition has been before the select committee since last year, but no recommendation has been made," Su'a William Sio said.

"I think an inquiry would be a much more pragmatic approach to take as this will ensure an open and transparent process in which all New Zealanders can participate and have their say on an issue that will impact on the next generation of Pacific peoples.

"The researchers, teachers and parents who signed this petition hold very strong views that Pacific children have a right to Pacific language bilingual education and that bilingual education will strengthen academic achievements and wellbeing of Pacific children.

"It will be beneficial for all MPs especially the Government to have access to this evidence before making up their minds on budget priorities.

"The select committee is evenly split between Government and Opposition MPs with the Chair, Nikki Kaye National MP for Auckland Central holding the casting vote.

"I'm hopeful that the Government members, especially the Chair who represents Auckland Central will see the value of conducting this inquiry especially with significant numbers of the Pacific community residing in the Auckland region, where Samoan, Tongan and the languages of the realm islands (Niue, Cooks Islands and Tokelau) are spoken daily.

"By this time tomorrow we'll know whether the Government MPs on the Education and Science Select Committee have endorsed Labour's request for this inquiry, or not," Su'a William Sio said.

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