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Māori Language

Example of our work regarding Te Reo in Education

Pānui 23/ 2020 the Ministry of Education Māori Language in Education Strategy Te Mai Te Reo – The Māori Language in Education Strategy.

Tau Mai Te Reo is the Government’s Māori language in the education sector strategy. It is described as a companion strategy to Ka Hikitia.  Overall we consider it’s a good idea to have a separate strategy centred on Te Reo; as Ka Hikitia is about people, rather than a taonga area like this.

This Tau Mai Te Reo strategy is not too different from the last one, in that it takes a structured ‘outcomes’ based approach (the difference being that the outcomes and actions are renewed). This means it is more operational than Ka Hikitia III.  Basically language learning is grouped into three areas: Mihi Mai (basic words), Kōrero Mai (conversational proficiency) and Tau Mai (advanced educational excellence via Te Reo).  In each area action activities are identified to encourage greater Te Reo acquisition, usage and higher proficiency.  Overall the objectives and actions planned read as clear and sensible.  With one significant exception.

The exception is important – in our view the analysis around how to increase the quantum of Māori learners engaging in this medium of instruction is weak. In particular the strategy fails to understand/articulate that the gateway to Māori medium instruction opens and closes quickly for tamariki Māori at three and four years of age.  In essence it is very hard to join Māori medium education after those young age groups.  As the Ministry’s unprocessed data shows, in every schooling age group there is never any more Māori learners in kura than was enrolled in Kōhanga Reo type setting at age four.  In whole numbers, presently there will be circa 2,500 four year-olds in a Kōhanga type setting, but in each year of primary schooling there will be only circa 2,000 Māori tamariki in kura/Māori medium education, which will fall away to 1,000 tamariki for college (whare kura) years.

This means the only realistic way to improve the ratio of one in five Māori tamariki learning via Te Reo Māori in the school/kura sector is to increase Māori medium participation in the early childhood education / Kōhanga Reo sector first – however that involves solutions from outside of the education sector – and this is the weakness of this strategy in not realising this. For example recognising the access challenges many Māori parents have, particularly solo parents, and how that impacts on educational service choice.  (I.e. it’s not just about building and funding more Kōhanga Reo, that is important but is not the sufficient on its own.)   In our view until Tau Mai Te Reo better reconciles socio-demographic information around Māori parents and early childhood services and subsidy rates for parents it has little chance of having any real impact on the desired Te Reo uptake targets it sets out.   Working more with the Ministry of Social Development to understand early childhood and Kōhanga Reo access decisions and ensuring the adequate promotion of these services to Māori whānau are missing parts of this strategy.

Title: Tau Mai Te Reo | The Māori Language in Education Strategy
Publisher & Date:  Ministry of Education (Min Ed): July 2020
Type of Document: Strategic planning
Length, style Website text with attached 2-page PDF diagrams
Recommended readership: Subscribers in the education sector
Content summary Tau Mai Te Reo is the Government’s Māori language in education strategy.  It is described as a companion to Ka Hikitia, and thus has the same overarching objectives (see the Ka Hikitia review).  However Tau Mai Te Reo has its own guiding principles:

·         He taonga te reo

·         Tuarkiritanga (Māori learners thrive when their identity, language and culture is embedded into their learning);

·         Te Whare o Te Reo Mauri Ora (Crown and Māori must support Te Reo)

·         He reo kōrero, he reo ora (normalising the speaking of Māori matters)

·         He Huarahi ako (a life long learning journey)[1]

After mapping Tau Mai to the Maihi Karauna (the Government’s Māori language strategy) and to Ka Hikitia, three outcome measures are identified:

·         Mihi Mai – more participation at introductory levels

·         Kōrero Mai – increases in proficiency

·         Tau Mai – excellent education outcomes via the medium of Te Reo.

Quality rating:[2] Good
Assessment Rationale: We rated this report as good for the following reasons:

·         it is effective identification of context and issues arising;

·         it applies a structured approach to the gains it is seeking, and actions are clear and tangible, based largely on the evidence at hand.

Overall the objectives and actions planned read as clear and sensible.  What is useful is that the actions are much clearer in this strategy than in the broader Ka Hikitia.  The ‘we will’ statements presents as realistic and believable.

With one significant exception.  The exception is important – in our view the analysis around how to increase the quantum of Māori learners engaging in this medium of instruction is weak.  In particular officials seem to have failed to understand/articulate that the gateway to Māori medium instruction opens and then closes quickly for tamariki Māori at three and four years of age (so it’s actually a parental choice).  It is very difficult to join Māori medium education after those age groups.  For example as the Ministry’s unprocessed data shows, in every schooling age group there is never any more Māori learners in kura than was enrolled in Kōhanga Reo at age four.  In whole numbers, presently there will be circa 2,500 four year-olds in a kōhanga type setting, but in each year of primary schooling there will be only circa 2,000 Māori tamariki in Māori medium education, which will fall away to 1,000 tamariki for college (whare kura) years.  This means the only realistic way to improve the ratio of one in five Māori tamariki learning via Te Reo Māori in the school/kura sector is to increase Māori medium participation in the early childhood education / Kōhanga Reo sector first; but that will involve some solutions from outside of the education sector.  For example recognising the access challenges many Māori parents have, particularly solo parents, and how that impacts on educational service choice.  (I.e. its not just about building and funding more Kōhanga, that is important but is not the sufficient on its own.)   In our view until Tau Mai Te Reo better reconciles socio-demographic information around Māori parents and early childhood services, it has little chance of having any real impact on the desired Te Reo uptake targets it sets out.

Recommendations: a.     The Ministry of Education work more closely with the Ministry of Social Development on understanding the support provided to whānau with children aged 0 to 5, including childcare access support.
Hyperlink: https://education.govt.nz/our-work/overall-strategies-and-policies/tau-mai-te-reo/tau-mai-te-reo-the-maori-language-in-education-strategy-english/

 

[1] Words in paraphrases are our summaries.

[2] Refer to the rubrics table in the endnotes for quality ratings.