I recently came upon an article from the Cook Islands News about how the Takitumu Primary School on Rarotonga, Cook Islands is focusing this year on Maori language and keeping the culture and tradition of the Cook Islands alive. Believe it or not, Takitumu School was where my first volunteer job in the Pacific Islands back in 2002. Naturally I was excited to see that good news was coming from the school where I worked in the library and helped students learn to read English.
The school principal Carly Ave was encouraging parents to support her and the school’s administration on teaching Maori. “Students all speak English, but they need to learn more Maori and this is an important class that we are encouraging and promoting for our students.” She said it was a challenge but the goal was to get the language taught and the school was passionate about it.
Ave said the school was also focusing on the importance of people growing their own food and promoting the importance of students eating the right foods.“We decided that for our school it will be as important as reading and writing, because for this island it is important to eat healthy.” The school is going to be strict with this and staff will continue to monitor what pupils are eating, as unhealthy food became a problem last year.
Takitumu school has eight full-time teachers, two teacher aides and a trainee teacher who will be learning on the job. “We are absolutely happy. The students are well settled down, we have had a good turnout since the second day and everyone is prepared for this year,” Ave said.
Around 180 students have enrolled for the start of classes and this number is likely to climb. “We have had a record number of enrollments and we are expecting to get a few more, especially from students returning from holidays abroad.”Ave said some classes are already full and she was hoping enrollments would end soon because the school wanted classes kept to a size that would promote quality learning.“Keeping the children happy creates a happy learning environment that also boosts quality learning.”