Holistic approach improves literacy and numeracy skills of Māori students


Mismatch of the current education system (Te Pūtea Whakatupu Trust Report Photo)

Dr Malini Yugendran

Auckland, January 20, 2023

According to a study released yesterday (19.01.2023) by Te Pūtea Whakatupu Trust, targeted investment for kaupapa Māori (Māori principles and ideas which act as a foundation for action) literacy and numeracy programmes has accelerated Māori students’ learning.

$5.5 million investment

An independent summative review: Ng Uri Whakatupu, assessed the effects of Te Pūtea Whakatupu Trust’s $5.5 million investment in a program that provided 1,600 Māori children, aged 5-12, with innovative literacy and numeracy education from July 2019 to June 2022.

The approach

According to Te Ptea Whakatupu Trust’s report, its comprehensive approach to literacy and numeracy produced better learning results than New Zealand’s existing educational system. It introduced a whānau-centred (family-centred) approach to literacy and numeracy which improved tamariki’s (children’s) education and wellness. The improvement was consistent across the various areas where its holistic approach was introduced: Blenheim, West Auckland, South Auckland, Waikato, and Wellington.

Tailormade programs deliver better results (Te Pūtea Whakatupu Trust Report Photo)

Te Pūoho Kātene, Executive Director of Te Pūtea Whakatupu Trust, said “We know that when whānau are engaged in ways that work for them, they thrive, and we are proud to support initiatives such as these to help bridge the literacy and numeracy gap that our ākonga Māori [Māori students] experience in our mainstream education system.”

According to the report, the programme brought a fun and diverse approach to numeracy and literacy.

Family oriented method

Te Pūtea Whakatupu Trust’s innovative method was characterised by Whānau Ora approaches centred on tamariki and whānau learning needs, whānau strengths, whānau aspirations and whānau wellbeing.

Whānau Ora assists Māori families in achieving their maximum health and well-being. It drives the idea that families should be self-sufficient, have healthy lifestyles, and participate in society with confidence, all while respecting Māori customs and protocols.

Innovative Literacy and numeracy programmes accelerate learning (Te Pūtea Whakatupu Trust Report Photo)

Challenges to implementation

The report stated that the impact of the pandemic continues to pose challenges and negatively impact student attendance rates, whānau re-engagement, and staff well-being and retention. It stated that Kura (schools) and partners are continuing to work hard to reengage tamariki and whānau. However, despite the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the approach had helped target and accelerate the learning needs of tamariki and whānau.

Program extrapolation

The evaluation findings point towards positive outcomes and impact together with a high level of engagement among its participants.

Mr Kātene, said, “We have an extensive body of research that demonstrates the significant benefits of delivering a kaupapa Māori approach to learning, but without targeted investment and resourcing, these benefits are limited to those within our programme catchments. We now challenge Government to bridge the gap where mainstream education falls short, rather than trying to find a way for our tamariki to fit, use these findings to design a system which fits around them.”

Success formula of the innovative approach (Indian Newslink Infographic by Nikita Patil)

Te Pūtea Whakatupu Trust

Te Pūtea Whakatupu Trust was established under the Māori Fisheries Act 2004 as part of the settlement of Māori fishing rights claims. As an autonomous charitable trust, its duties include managing the trust’s fund allotted for the objectives of providing strategic leadership and direction for Māori workforce development, education, and training.  The Trust has an obligation to ensure benefits are made available to all Māori. In 2018, the Trust made a strategic decision to re-invest in literacy and numeracy programmes targeted towards improving educational outcomes for tamariki in Years 1 to 8, located in high-need areas.

The Trust’s distinct objectives include:

Futureproof the Next Generation For the 22nd century.

Mentoring and Governance Training

Innovation and Research for Māori Engagement and Growth

Dr Malini Yugendran is an Indian Newslink Reporter based in Auckland.

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