Kindy teachers to learn in Tonga

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Teachers at an Oamaru kindergarten have been given an opportunity to immerse themselves in a different culture to benefit children and their families.
In April, four teachers from Edna McCulloch Kindergarten – Sue Gordon, Sue Mareta- Ria, Amanda Ng and Gillian Rossiter – will travel to Tonga for an eight-day trip.
The kindergarten, part of the Oamaru Kindergarten Association, successfully applied for funding through the Joyce Barns Travel Trust.
The trust was set up to provide grants to registered kindergarten teachers employed by a kindergarten association to travel overseas to study, or to help meet costs of attendance at early childhood education conferences.
Mrs Gordon, head teacher at Edna McCulloch Kindergarten, said the growing number of Pasifika children, particularly of Tongan descent, meant the kindergarten had become more diverse and as a result, more needed to be done to cater for those children and their families.
Pasifika children make up about 20% of the roll.
“The benefit will be the fact that we will understand better some of the history and the culture of our children and our families and be able to use that knowledge to deepen the opportunities we provide.
“I think it brings a richness and a diversity that keeps us on our toes. I suppose just making sure we have enough professional development and that was the whole idea about applying for this grant.”
While in Tonga, the group will be joined by Api Fifita and stay with her family.
Mrs Fifita is heavily involved with the kindergarten in a culture and language role, as part of a contract with the kindergarten association and the Ministry of Education.
The group will visit a preschool, primary school and high school, attend a church service, and take part in customary food gathering and cultivation.
Mrs Gordon said it was pleasing all the kindergarten’s staff would be going.
“For the whole team to be able to go together is really important because we’ll all experience it – not just one coming back and saying that’s the way they do it.”
The group leaves for Tonga on April 22, during the school holidays.