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Posted on 25 March 2015
Seventeen students in Niue recently graduated with the Open Polytechnic Certificate in Teacher Aiding (Level 4), at an evening fia fia held to celebrate their achievement with government dignitaries and the New Zealand High Commissioner to the country.
Programme Leader for the Teacher Aiding certificate, Jane Hall, was at the recent graduation ceremony and spent a week visiting the local schools and conducting workshops with another ten students who are now undertaking the Certificate in Teacher Aiding (Level 4). Another two Niuean-based students are also working towards the Open Polytechnic Certificate in Early Childhood Practice (Level 4).
New Zealand’s specialist provider of distance learning at tertiary level, the Open Polytechnic’s partnership with the Niue Department of Education started in 2013, after they contacted Open Polytechnic.
“They were looking for a way of providing training for teacher aides on Niue and to create a pool of people who had the skills to be relievers in school when teachers are absent,” says Jane.
“In early 2014 I met with the current Director of Education Birtha Togahai when she was visiting New Zealand to explain the Open Polytechnic programme. Once back in Niue, Birtha provided invaluable weekly tutorial support for the students which complemented our distance learning materials and teaching support.“
“Niueans are New Zealand citizens and the schools use the New Zealand curriculum. The Open Polytechnic Certificate in Teacher Aiding integrates theory and practice in relation to the curriculum so it was a good match for what they wanted.”
The students, who were placed in the early childhood, primary and secondary schools in Alofi completed the certificate, which normally takes about 18 months, in one year.
Jane attended the graduation, and enjoyed the speeches given by the Niuean Acting Premier, the Secretary to the Government, the New Zealand High Commissioner as well as one of the graduates.
“The Education Department and students felt it had been a very successful experience. It was announced on the evening that some of the students would be relievers for the schools and that some would be able to undertake fast track teacher training in conjunction with the University of the South Pacific,” says Jane.
Five of the students are now working as teacher aides in Alofi. Two have come to New Zealand to complete their teaching qualifications and one student is now working in the Early Childhood Education in an Alofi School and one is working with a village playgroup. The rest of the graduates are working as relievers in Niuean schools.