Homework club to boost Pasifika learning

CHARLEY MANN
Last updated 07:30 23/05/2013
Homework club
IAIN McGREGOR/Fairfax NZ

STORY TIME: Hornby Primary School principal Gary Roberts reads to Siale Baxter, 5, left, and Sagele Uliano, 6, at the Pasifika homework club.

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When Jeff and Lima Magele learned that only half of Pasifika pupils achieve high school qualifications, they wanted to do something about it.

So they tackled the problems at the root, establishing a homework club to encourage Pasifika youth to take pride in learning.

"There are so many reports from the Ministry of Education to show that Pasifika always underachieve at NCEA," Jeff Magele said.

"Homework is vital for learning.

"We are trying to encourage children who need help and also helping parents so they, in turn, help their children."

NCEA results from 2012 show that 68 per cent of 16-year-olds achieved NCEA Level 2, while Pasifika pupils had just a 52.5 per cent pass rate.

The Pasifika pass rate was up 3.5 per cent on 2011, but the Mageles, whose children attend Canterbury University and represent the region in rugby, know it can be accelerated.

Getting family on board with learning was important because Pasifika pupils had been proven to learn more effectively in group settings, Lima Magele said.

"We can keep accelerating literacy and numeracy in school this way," she said.

The homework club is just seven weeks old but already more than 20 pupils on average visit each Monday and Wednesday evening for three hours.

It is open to any Pasifika families living in Hornby.

Younger pupils spend time reading with helpers and their parents, while older pupils have access to computers and the internet to complete coursework, with the guidance of Canterbury University students and volunteer teachers.

Hornby Primary School has given the group free use of its library space.

Principal Gary Roberts said it was a "wonderful opportunity" to help the community and to encourage lifelong learning.

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