08.04.2015 - UNESCO Office in Apia

Vagahau Niue literacy standards completed

(c) Niue Department of Education

The UNESCO’s assistance towards the development of education in Niue, enabled a workshop reflecting Niue’s commitment to translate its education curriculum and other related programmes into its vernacular language.

This commitment is entrenched in Niue's supreme law of the land stating that there are two official languages for the people of Niue; Vagahau Niue and English.  This is reinforced in the Education Act 1989 where it explicitly states that the Department of Education is “to continue with the development of bilingualism (Vagahau Niue and English)”.  Again, this is reflected in the Niue National Strategic Plan (NNSP) Pillar 4-Social – “focusing on education, training and human resource development” and Pillar 6-Taoga Niue: “promote, preserve and strengthen Niue cultural heritage, language, values and identity".  All government department plans must also align with the NNSP and the Education Department is no different as in the Niue Education Corporate Plans 2009-2013 and 2014-2018 one of its strategic goals is “to secure and promote our unique identity as Niue peoples”. The Vagahau Niue in the Literacy Standards adapted from the Te Reo Matatini Te Whanaketaga (New Zealand Curriculum) was first submitted for comment in draft form in March 2014 and for the second and final time in July 2014.  

The workshop held in July 2014, was to provide an opportunity for the teachers to review and submit feedback on the Draft Vagahau Niue translated Document.   The primary objectives of the workshop were:  

1. To ascertain if the document used appropriate and relevant Vagahau Niue language;

2. To determine if the content of the draft literacy standards and Vagahau Niue were comparable or equal to that of the Vagahau Niue segment of the Niue National Curriculum and suitable for the Niuean context;

3. To provide relevant and constructive feedback; and

4. To make purposeful suggestions where relevant and appropriate.  

Following the successful completion of the workshop, the Niue Department of Education aimed to take the following actions:  

1. To finalise the Literacy Standards in Vagahau Niue within the Niue National Curriculum and submit them to the Cabinet for approval;

2. To ensure that teachers will become familiar with the literacy standards in Vagahau Niue and take ownership of the document by using it in their classrooms; and

3. To launch the final document at the 41st Constitution Celebrations on 19 October 2015.  

The first phase of the translation of the Literacy and Numeracy Standards has been completed and will be followed by the publication of the document. Unfortunately, the Numeracy component has not yet been completed due to time constraints and the difficulties of translation because the Vagahau Niue does not have the appropriate language to accommodate the translation to suit the context and objectives of the standards for Niue.  

Comments made by the teachers demonstrated the need for more and closer collaboration at the planning stage of the Document and for experts to be consistent in the terminology used and to keep the translation as precise as possible to avoid any confusion on the part of both teachers and students.  

Some confusion relating to the wording of the document was experienced at the beginning of the workshop but this was later resolved when teachers understood that the Literacy and Numeracy standards Vagahau Niue were the contextualised versions of the New Zealand Curriculum within the Niue National Curriculum.  

With the continuing support of UNESCO or alternative funding support, the numeracy standards will undergo the same process in order to be successfully finalised and launched.  

The teachers found the experience very constructive not only in building and strengthening their knowledge of Vagahau Niue but also in being part of the whole development and implementation process of the literacy standards in order to raise the learning outcomes of students.




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