April 7, 2022

New digital approach brings welcome connection for Samoan ECEs

New technology in West Auckland Samoan ECE centres is set to provide a critical digital connection for teachers and families. 

Teachers working across Tāfesilafa’i, the West Auckland Samoan ECE community of care, identified an urgent need for increasing their digital capacity and capability. 

Tāfesilafa’i was initially created with a focus on addressing a lack of resources and support for teachers that was centred on Samoan cultural values and language. The aim of the group is to build teachers’ capacity to grow and exchange knowledge in order to develop pedagogy and curriculum with a Samoan worldview.

The latest digital capacity innovation is a collective approach to increasing digital capacity in the Samoan ECE setting through developing Pacific methodologies in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and maths) and whānau engagement.

Healthy Families Waitākere Systems Innovator Chantelle Huch explains there is now a greater reliance than ever on virtual technology, and this is requiring new thinking and changes from the centres around the way they do things. 

“Due to the pandemic and associated lockdowns, the Tāfesilafa’i had to cancel all their face-to-face events planned for October, November and December 2021. Most of the activities are based on cultural and social norms, and these were not safe to continue under Covid restrictions.

“This greater reliance on virtual technology highlighted the lack of access to resources for our Samoan ECE centres, especially in the periods of extended lockdown when virtual engagement is crucial,” adds Chantelle.

“This project seeks to enhance and encourage more digital capacity amongst not only teachers, but students, whānau and their community by equipping our West Auckland Samoan ECE teachers with devices as well as providing digital literacy professional development opportunities and ultimately creating a pathway and platform for the digital learning to extend beyond the teachers, to the families and community.”

Funding from The Western Initiative has to date supported the provision of laptops across four centres including Aoga Amata Centre (Avondale), Lupesina Aoga Amata Preschool (Glendene), Rosebank Early Childhood Centre (Avondale) and Taulapapa Leata Su’a Aoga Amata (Henderson).

“The Western Initiative is pleased to partner on this ethnic specific innovation that not only builds digital capacity, but also provides a platform for teachers and Aiga to talanoa about opportunities and pathways into the technology industry,” explains Fole (Daleki) Finau, Intrapreneur – Community and Social Innovation at The Western Initiative – Auckland Council.

In the next phase, teachers will undertake professional learning and development workshops, delivered in Samoan.This will be assisted by additional funding recently provided from Foundation North that will support teachers’ professional learning and development, as well as the purchase of further digital resources.

“We look forward to gathering insights in the coming months around the impact of this digital strategy on not only the wellbeing of teachers, but also looking at the broader impact on students and their families,” adds Chantelle.