The two-day workshop is the first of a three year project and is funded by New Zealand Aid working in conjunction with the University of Auckland, University of the South Pacific Tonga campus and the Ministry of Education. It focused on improving the way children in years one to three are taught to speak, read and write in both English and Maori.
Workshop project manager Rebecca Spartt says the team first came to Rarotonga last year and visited schools to observe what was happening in the classroom at the primary level, while at the same time identifying strengths and weaknesses in the teaching system.
The team presented some of their recommendations to teachers and principals at the workshop.
They will be on the island for a few more weeks and will hold another workshop for teachers from Mauke, Mitiaro, Atiu and Mangaia, after which they will fly to Aitutaki for a third session.
Spartt says the response from teachers was positive, with everyone absorbing the data presented to them and were eager to return to their classrooms to practice what they had learned.
Presenter Jacinta Oldehaver was impressed with the engagement and participation of the teachers.
“It’s been a powerful few days,” she said.
Over the next three years the team of researchers and educators from the University of Auckland and the Institute of USP in Tonga will return to the Cook Islands, providing ongoing support and resources to schools around the country.
“It’s fantastic for the University of Auckland to be involved in the workshop,” Spartt said.