Home Education Early Childhood Education in Aotearoa New Zealand: History, Pedagogy, and Liberation
Teacher shortages for bilingual immersion settings have long been an issue. The Waitangi Tribunal (2010) Report quoted newspaper headings: “Call for boost in Mdori teacher tally” (Press, July 11, 2007), “Bilingual teachers in hot demand” (Sunday Star Times, August 4, 2002), “Demand at all levels for bilingual Mdori teachers” (Evening Post, January 30, 1997), “Teacher crisis jeopardises bilingual classes” (Dominion Sunday Times,
September 30, 1990), “High personal cost for kura kaupapa principals” (Kia Hiwa Ra, November 1996). The Waitangi Tribunal (2010, 2012) found that what was striking about Maori-medium surveys was the apparent gulf between the numbers of parents who wanted their children in Maori-medium education, and the number of children actually attending, showing demand far outweighed supply in terms of numbers of teachers and settings thus limiting participation. The Tribunal findings stated:
There have also been various initiatives to attract and retain te reo and Maori-medium teachers, and to increase Maori-language teaching resources ... But what is striking about surveys is the apparent gulf between the numbers of parents who wanted their children in Maori- medium education, and the number of children actually in that form of learning. Surveys showed the demand for Maori-medium education was much higher than the rate of participation. This, along with the shortage of Maori-speaking teachers, suggests that supply could not keep up with demand. Thousands of Maori children (there is no need to be more precise than that) were in monolingual English education when their caregivers wanted either Maori-immersion education or (principally) bilingual education including Maori.... the gap between supply and demand would have been so large that it was impossible to meet that demand to a reasonable standard within a reasonable time. Officials needed to have taken proper and rigorous steps in the early 1980s to estimate kohanga demand. Had they done so, it seems likely that they could have foreseen the massive uptake of kohanga reo through the 1980s and into the next decade, and inevitably an equally large flow-through demand for Maori-medium primary education ... Indeed, a report commissioned by the (then) Department of education in 1987 estimated (conservatively, as it turns out) that at least 1,000 more Maori speaking teachers would be needed over the following decade to service the kohanga generation. (2010, pp. 11-12)
Maori had no other option but to put their children into monolingual English educational settings because of the attrition in the bilingual/ immersion settings, instead of the much needed expansion to cater for the demands.
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