Yesterday, the NCEA National Certificate in Educational Achievement results were released with many proud parents posting on Facebook and other social media of their child’s/children’s achievement/s.

And I’m no different in being a proud parent of our elder child who has successfully accomplished achieving an Excellence Endorsement overall in NCEA level 2 studies and now in the final year of high school and looking forward to University studies next year.

However, on the flip side of the coin, not all our Pasifika students were winners in this battery of tests and it gives the negative stigma and impression that if one doesn’t pass these exams that they are somehow not smart or will not do so well in life.

It is far from the truth, but something that one is aware of in observing how educational exams disadvantage some sectors in society because of the language and cultural capital that is expected to be able to understand and answer the questions in order to get the ‘excellence standards’.

As an ex-English teacher in teaching Pasifika/Maori students to excel in pre-University English exams and seeing many rise to the challenge and succeed, I’d talk about providing the difference in thinking: of providing evidence, of being succinct, of being highly structured, keeping focused on the question, thinking creatively in problem solving in order to produce those excellent results etc. and using texts that Pasifika students could readily relate to with universal themes.

That’s because I knew that the teacher often made the biggest difference: in being highly competent, in knowing their subject well with a keen eye and then passing on that confidence and hints to students so that they could equally do well.

But in observing some of the teacher delivery and expectations, it is a worry that Pasifika students, in many schools are often seen as not doing so well, but to me the biggest difference is having caring and capable teachers who make the difference who are both Pasifika or non-Pasifika but the difference is being committed to do their best so that they can get the best results out of their students with no excuses or blame!

So my congratulations are to all committed teachers who care and are competent in teaching our Pasifika students and to supportive Pasifika parents who care enough to give that time and space for their children to do well because it’s often been described as a 3 legged stool where the: parents/family, child and school/teachers are in sync that brings about success to each child and that if one of the legs isn’t functioning well then it is doubly difficult for the child to succeed in school.

A big congratulations to Pasifika students success but also a thought to those who need more support in wanting to leave no one behind…

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