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Home arrow Education arrow Early Childhood Education in Aotearoa New Zealand: History, Pedagogy, and Liberation

The impact of Pathways policy on bilingual/immersion settings

The Kohanga Reo movement was swept away in the tsunami of strategic policy developed for an English-language sector, leaving a weakened “parent-led” or “whanau (family)-led” (TKR) movement and a reinforced teacher-led (monolingual English) sector. This created a “parent-led, teacher-led” divide. The divide was a policy divide that produced a breach of such proportions that one wonders if the Maori bilingual/immersion sector can ever fully recover. In a very real sense the divide created the moribund context for TKR (with a “non-quality” categorization under the Pathways policy) and a burgeoning mainstream ECE context (categorized as “quality” under the Pathways policy). Whilst the intention may have been noble, the professionalization of the teaching profession in the early childhood sector, the nascent Kohanga Reo movement, was particularly vulnerable as there were no “officially sanctioned” teacher education programs. The two streams, whitestream and Maori bilingual/immersion, were then recalibrated and remunerated accordingly. Funding went the way of the professional “teachers.” The Maori stream suffered losses in enrollments and a decline in funding. The follow-on inequities were cemented at the structural level and became evident in the practice, with accelerated growth in the English-medium sector and rapidly declining numbers and dwindling resources in the Maori-medium sector. The gross inequities are evident in 2013, with a declining Maori-medium sector (Waitangi Tribunal, 2012). While the Maori stream has been lodged in the linguafaction, the whitestream sector flourished.

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