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They've always been here but we could not hear them. We could not see them

Crocombe, Marjorie and Dixon, Roderick and Early, Robert and Wilfred, Fimone and Fiu, Rachel and Gragg, Joan and Ioane, Tifaole and Jione, Mojito and Fua, Seu'ula J. and Togahai, Birtha L. and Lolohea, Anoano and Nicholas, Sally A and Naisau, Semi A and Papatua, Vae and Rafai, Rosarine and Taleo, Hendricks and Taumoefolau, Melenaite and Thompson, Tricia and Veikune, Ana H. and Willans, Fiona (2019) They've always been here but we could not hear them. We could not see them. UNESCO.

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In 2019, the international year of indigenous languages, and the year after the University of the South Pacific’s 50th anniversary, we are celebrating an achievement that we had never thought possible: the introduction of degree programmes in Cook Islands Māori, Rotuman, Tongan and Niuafo‘ou, Vagahau Niue, and Vanuatu Language Studies, alongside Fijian, the only indigenous language that had had a place in our curriculum until 2018. These programmes are aimed at fluent speakers of the languages of study, and they use these languages as medium of teaching and assessment. For the first time, English is therefore being challenged as the only language through which high-level concepts can be discussed, and through which academic research can be conducted. For the first time, Pacific languages will be taught in schools by teachers who are qualified to do so, rather than by fluent speakers who have been trained to teach other subjects. For the first time, our students can gain credit for delivering oral presentations, written essays and creative pieces in their dominant language. Even for the students who do not choose to take up this option, or who do not yet have a language programme open to them, the possibility of studying a Pacific language at our university is becoming normalised. Our aim in coming together to share our story is to lay out its complexity. If we are serious about the sustainability of these programmes, we need to engage with this complexity, and we need to keep talking about why all this matters. We need our leaders and our allies to understand that the actions we take at our university will impact the way the indigenous languages and cultures of this region are valued, used and transmitted to the next generations.

Item Type: Other
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
Divisions: School of Pacific Arts, Communication and Education (SPACE)
Depositing User: Tarai Tabore
Date Deposited: 20 Apr 2022 01:20
Last Modified: 10 Jan 2023 04:28

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