Monica Tafale went to Avarua Primary. She went on to Tereora College. Like so many others, she left school and left the country, going to the University of Waikato in New Zealand to further her learning.
But is there’s one thing Tafale knows, it’s the importance of education. And that’s why she is one of two Cook Islanders returning home, after graduating, to take up a teaching position – at her old school ,Tereora.
At Christmas, Tereora was facing a serious challenge to staff its classrooms this year – and other schools weren’t much better off. Now, the reinforcements are arriving.
Tafale, who is in her early 20s, said she was glad to be back home to share her knowledge with the younger generation.
She chose to be a teacher because she noticed there was a learning gap with the younger generation – meaning a need to invest and create a learning generation.
“I strongly believe our young is our future, so what you reap is what is you sow. I think it’s amazing to return home to teach.”
She said it was her way of giving back to her community, as she believes in service. “Now I’m back and I am excited to start my teaching career.”
As the new school year opens next week, Tafale said she would be excited to stand in front of a class as an English teacher.
“I am looking forward to teaching at Tereora, it will be something new and I am really excited I can’t wait to get into class because I have all these ideas and I just can’t wait to get in and get the work done.
“For me it’s good to come back home, give back to your community and it’s a wonderful opportunity because you become this role model for others.
“I know that for some student, they fear to travel away for education and then to come back. I think it’s a great opportunity to jump into it, go for it don’t be scared,” she added.
Eight teachers attended the induction process yesterday, with six more still to arrive in the country.
Ani-Tia Piri, the education ministry’s recruitment advisor, explained that they had advertised in New Zealand and Fiji to help fill their vacancies.
With the new teachers starting this school year, a number of vacant English teaching positions would be filled.
Human resources management director Terry Utanga said the recruitment number this year had been higher than last year, and mostly college teachers.