Covid-19 has "disproportionately and significantly" affected the education of Pasifika learners and there is a risk that this will have long-term impacts on them, according to new research by the Education Review Office (ERO).
It shows that attendance rates are falling behind other groups, with the rate in November being only 47% of what it normally is.
The report has also found that the learning achievements of those from Pasifika backgrounds fell in 2021.
Part of the problem, says ERO Chief Executive and Chief Review Officer, Nick Pole, is that two-thirds of Pasifika learners live in Auckland, where schools have been closed more than 3 times longer than the rest of the country due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Pacific communities have also experienced higher levels of the illness and learners have, overall, been more likely to not have access to a device allowing them to learn remotely.
Pole says the impacts of the pandemic are still being felt.
“Pacific learners also told us how the pandemic had continued to impact them in terms of anxiety and being overwhelmed transitioning in and out of lockdowns.”
Pole praises Pacific learners and communities for being “remarkably resilient in facing the challenges of Covid-19.”
Pacific learners reported to the ERO that they felt supported by the adults in their lives and had people they could talk to if they had wellbeing or learning concerns.
They were also more likely to say they received extra support from teachers following lockdown and there has also been an increase in Pacific families’ engagement with their children’s learning.
There has also been praise for how schools have responded during the pandemic.
“We have seen schools implement flexible timetables to help learners manage education and other responsibilities, such as working or helping out at home,” says ERO Pule Pasifika, Taulea'leausumai, Violet Tu'uga Stevenson.
“We have also seen schools innovate to make culture a visible part of learning, celebrate pride in Pacific cultures, and working to make strong connections with Pacific learners to better understand them."
The ERO is recommending education agencies work together to develop a specific response to raise achievement for Pacific learners and to work specifically with those schools where learners’ progress and achievement has suffered.