ChildForum Office of Pre-Primary Education

ChildForum Office of Pre-Primary EducationLead advisor on early childhood care and education 
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Publisher of the New Zealand-International Research in Early Childhood Journal


Cultural competencies framework for teachers of Pasifika learners - Tapasā

website Consultation is now open for Tapasā – the cultural competencies framework for teachers of Pasifika learners.

Tapasā is the Samoan word for “compass”, representing a framework, or navigational tool for teachers, which aims to develop teachers’ understanding of the unique requirements of Pasifika learners and provides practical guidance for helping to raise achievement in Pasifika learners.

Tapasā is recommended as a tool for board members or senior management to ensure that the unique and diverse needs of Pasifika learners are incorporated at a fundamental level. Teacher training providers are also recommended to incorporate this into their teacher training programmes.

The framework is centered on the following three turu or key competencies. Turu can be translated as help, brace or support in Cook Island Māori

  1. Identity, language and culture
  2. Collaborative and respectful relationships and professional behaviour
  3. Effective Pasifika Pedagogy

Under each of the three turu are indicators of competency based on different stages of teacher development; teachers are encouraged to build on their previous knowledge as they develop as a teacher through the following stages:

  • Student teacher
  • Beginning teacher
  • Experienced teacher
  • Leader

Case studies are provided with each turu, which show examples of ways in which teachers can display these competencies in their practise; case studies are based on a number of different contexts and involve a range of Pasifika cultures. Following the case studies, there is also a Case study analysis flow chart, guiding questions, and further reading to help teachers to reflect on how they are ensuring that Pasifika learners’ needs are being incorporated into their teaching.

Following the framework in the draft, there are also some examples of Pasifika models and frameworks.

The consultation process for Tapasā is open until 5pm, 30th of June.  To learn more and give your feedback click here.

The final document is due to be completed in July.  The document is intended to be an integral framework in all sectors of the New Zealand education system, therefore it is important that teachers and service leaders review and have their say on the document; there are several ways to contribute your feedback, including:

  • Online surveys
  • Written submissions using a question sheet
  • Workshops

Footnote:  In 2013, the Pasifika Education Plan (PEP) was launched, which is due for completion in 2017; the goal of this plan is to raise participation, engagement and achievement for Pasifika learners. A part of this plan, which is of significance to the early childhood sector, is the emergence of the draft framework Tapasā – Cultural competencies framework for teachers of Pasifika learners, which is now open for consultation and feedback from the public. Statistics have shown that Pasifika students are under-represented in terms of achievement and participation in the New Zealand education system and Tapasā aims to improve these statistics.

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