Helplink consultant Sharna Matapuku spoke to the students on the benefits of furthering their education through tertiary avenues, whether in the Cook Islands or overseas. Sharna says that after recently learning that Araura College classes went as high as Year 13, she was determined to share what she knew regarding life after school.
“I was excited after speaking with a good friend, Thomas Wynne, who is now student counsellor at the college. So when the opportunity presented itself to speak to the senior students, I took it.
“It felt good to know there were more schools in the Cook Islands with students ready to pursue further education with plans to one day contribute to the future of our country.”
More than 40 students covering academic years 11, 12 and 13 gathered in one of the senior classes to hear the presentation.
“The purpose behind my visit was to let the students know what their entitlements are as Cook Island citizens but more so as New Zealand citizens if they are to explore tertiary education overseas,” says Sharna.
“It was about letting them know where to find help and that there are people willing and able to make the transition a smooth one.”
Remembering what life was like as a student many years ago, Sharna says that by year 11 or (back in her day it was called Form 5), it was vital for students to know what they wanted to do when they finished school and more importantly what needed to be done to achieve their ambitions.
“I was very surprised at the response of the students when I asked them what they wanted to do once they finished secondary school.
“Only two students raised their hands confidently knowing what they were going to become ‘career wise’ after school. The rest continued to sit there quietly with expressions of confusion on their faces.”
However when asked if they would prefer to earn $100 per hour as a professional rather than $7.00 as an unskilled worker, most of the pupils were quick to say they wanted to earn the higher amount.
“I was concerned at the fact the senior students were unsure of what they wanted to do when they finished school,” says Sharna.
“In a best case scenario, students should have mapped out their career paths from Form 3. From there, they should have identified what subjects and classes they needed to complete to achieve their end goal.”
Sharna spoke to a couple of teachers who told of their struggles with the students when it came to identifying future goals and career paths.
“We are doing our best with what little we have, but one of the major problems is finding ways to motivate our students,” one teacher said. Sharna hopes to make more visits to the school in future, all with the aim of helping the students to achieve their future aspirations in any way that she can.