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Informing progress for Pasifika

Publication Details

This is the first of a set of three reports looking at the implementation of the 2007-2012 Tertiary Education Strategy. This report provides a brief overview of the tertiary education sector as the strategy was being implemented and highlights key issues for achieving the strategy.

Author(s): Tertiary Sector Performance Analysis and Reporting, Ministry of Education

Date Published: July 2009

Informing progress for Pasifika

Increased educational success for young Pasifika people

The proportion of Pasifika students moving from school to tertiary study is much lower than that of Asian and European students. Pasifika school students were much more likely to go on to level 1 to 3 certificates than to diplomas or degrees. This largely reflects their level of school achievement.

Participation rates of 18 to 19-year-old Pasifika students in tertiary study at level 4 and above has been low. Participation rates have increased in level 4 to 7 certificates and diplomas and only increased slightly in bachelors degerees.

Pasifika 18 to 19-year-old first-year retention rates have been lower than for European and Asian students in diplomas, but similar to the overall retention rate for degrees. However, retention rates have decreased in recent years as participation has increased. At both levels, Pasifika students in this age group have been less likely to complete a qualification than students from other ethnic groups.

Pasifika were about half as likely as the total population to achieve a level 4 qualification or above by the age of 25. They are only a third as likely to achieve a bachelors degree by this age.

Increased literacy, numeracy and language levels in the workforce

In 2006, the overall literacy and numeracy of the Pasifika population was lower than that of other ethnic groups. Within the Pasifika population, those who had English as an additional language had lower literacy and numeracy in English.

Among Pasifika with English as a first language:

  • those who were in employment and study in 2006 were likely to have higher levels of literacy
  • those who were unemployed or not in the labour market were likely to have low levels of literacy.

However, for Pasifika with English as an additional language, there was little difference in literacy levels by labour force status.

Figure 1: Document literacy of the Pasifika population by labour force status

Image of Figure 1: Document literacy of the Pasifika population by labour force status.

Source: Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey 2006


Ensure needs and aspirations of Pasifika communities are addressed

By 2006, around a half of tertiary education organisations reported that they were developing relationships with Pasifika communities. However, most of these were focused on attracting more Pasifika students and few on understanding and addressing the needs and aspirations of the community.

Implementing the strategy …

The main focus on Pasifika in tertiary education organisation investment plans is on raising student achievement. However, the degree of explicit commitment varies across organisations. If targets set in the plans are met, the number of successful Pasifika learners in tertiary education should increase.

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