Beginning next year, local residents 21 years old or over will be eligible to study a Bachelor of Teaching (Primary) from the University of Waikato extramurally. The degree takes a total of three years to complete and students will have the option to study part or fulltime, says University of Waikato teaching fellow, Donn Ratana.
Ratana was a senior art lecturer at the University of Waikato for 30 years and is currently on Rarotonga as a co-organiser of the Putahi Ono Kuki Airani art gathering, which will hold open a second exhibition tonight at the Bergman Gallery.
The University of the South Pacific (USP) began delivering the Bachelor of Education (Primary) in 2004 and also offers a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education to all registered teachers in the Cook Islands. USP Cook Islands Campus director Roderick Dixon says there is a “special emphasis” on the outer islands regarding early childhood education.
“USP Cook Islands welcomes all initiatives designed to increase opportunities for Cook Islanders to complete university and vocational studies at home in the Cook Islands,” Dixon says.
“The local USP centre provides study space and facilities to students taking distance courses from Massey University, New Zealand’s main distance education provider and would be happy to provide the same types of support to Waikato students.”
New Zealand’s recently elected Labour-led government has announced the removal of tertiary fees for all first-year students in New Zealand. Ratana says Cook Islands students may also qualify for the exemptions.
“We’ll need at least 10 people on board to get the programme running.”
Once enrolled, students will complete their study online and will be visited by university representatives regularly. In their second year of study, students will be placed in schools for practical lessons. In the final year of the degree, these practical lessons will be extended to periods of around three weeks. Students will be placed in local primary schools.
Ratana says the University of Waikato has sent a number of teaching students to Rarotonga for the last three years. Two travelled to Rarotonga in 2015. The number increased to eight in 2016 and the same number returned once again last year. The trainee teachers carried out their practical placement at Apii Avarua. Ratana says eight Bachelor of Teaching students will again visit Rarotonga this August.