Pasifika students speak up about achievement

News News & events

09 Nov 2012

A powerful performance by secondary school Pasifika students, described as a snapshot of social aspects that affect their ability to achieve in school, has already had a positive impact, project coordinator Sela Faletolu, CPIT Te Kaiwhakauru Pasifika, says.

Previous performances of SPEAK YOUR TRUTH moved teachers and parents to tears. The show is being performed again at Aranui High School this weekend.

“We have already done two nights and the response was really strong. One teacher said, ‘the show has made me question what I do, how I teach and how I interact with these students’. We had some teachers in tears, also one principal in tears. Parents looked at how they were putting pressure on their children.”

image of Pasifika students

The performances were developed during a school holiday programme in October at CPIT called NO LIMITS! #LivingWithPurpose. 45 Pasifika students from 13 local secondary schools attended the programme, which featured inspirational guest speakers including Samoan playwright Victor Roger and You Tube star, secondary student Joshua Iosefo.

NO LIMITS! #LivingWithPurpose was a response to Faletolu’s visits to schools and discussions about why Pasifika students are not achieving at school. “When I started talking to the students they just had the most amazing stories – things that an adult would struggle with. So the idea was to help them tell their stories and let their teachers and parents know what they face,” she said. 

“These students have never been given the opportunity to tell their story publicly.”

Communicating their stories

SPEAK YOUR TRUTH uses drama, singing and dance to communicate the students’ stories. The students are talented, Faletolu said, but the immediacy of the performance is effective in its own right.

“I could have written a report, but this way they hear the story from the kids themselves. That’s why I decided to put the shows on again. It’s another thing to have the issues displayed right in front of you.”

Contributing reasons

Reasons given for underachievement included the pressure to contribute financially, with some students working up to 30 hours a week, and learning in English when English is a second language.

CPIT’s Centre for Māori and Pasifika Achievement offers support and guidance to all Māori and Pasifika students enrolled in CPIT programmes and operates outreach programmes as well.