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Enhancing Literacy and Numeracy Training for Pasifika Adult Learners: Strategies for Success

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In a captivating podcast interview, we had the privilege of engaging in an enlightening conversation with Dr. Betty-Ofe Grant, a revered PHD graduate, researcher, and lecturer at AUT.

Dr. Grant's profound insights into the challenges and potential solutions for enhancing literacy and numeracy training among Pasifika adult learners shed light on the critical strategies needed to support the educational advancement of Pasifika communities.

Pasifika adult learners, representing the Pacific Island communities in New Zealand, face distinct challenges when it comes to literacy and numeracy training. The barriers they encounter are multifaceted, rooted in cultural values, socioeconomic factors, and institutional dynamics. Recognising these challenges and implementing effective strategies is essential for creating equitable learning opportunities and supporting Pasifika individuals in their educational journeys.

Drawing from her expertise and research findings, Dr. Grant sheds light on the critical strategies needed to support the educational advancement of Pasifika communities.

Cultural Values and Their Influence on Work Behaviour

Dr. Grant underscores the significant influence of cultural values on Pasifika people's behaviour within work environments. With deep respect and humility ingrained in many Pacific cultures, Pasifika individuals often express their achievements through actions rather than words.

As Dr. Grant puts it, "In every culture of the Pacific, the way we respect people sometimes shines through silence. We don't often talk about ourselves... we tend to be humble in the way we do things." This cultural trait, while reflective of strong values, can inadvertently hinder effective self-promotion during performance appraisals, leading to misinterpretations and career challenges.

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Strategies for Success: Insights from Research

Dr. Grant's research highlights a range of strategies that can contribute to the success of Pasifika adult learners. As she emphasizes, "Employers have a responsibility to get to know their employees... the way they view their values is important to them." These strategies include:

  1. Empowering Employers with Cultural Competency Training: "Developing training programs that align with these values can foster engagement and skill development," says Dr. Grant.

  2. Culturally Competent Facilitators: Dr. Grant stresses the importance of trainers who understand Pasifika perspectives, stating, "Trainers must have cultural competency... they've got to understand where these people are coming from."

  3. Creating Inclusive Learning Environments: "Using real-world examples to connect theory with something relatable can enhance the learning experience," Dr. Grant affirms.

  4. Assessing and Addressing Learning Disabilities and Health Issues: Early intervention is crucial, as Dr. Grant explains, "Undiagnosed learning disabilities impact literacy and numeracy... something that needs further exploration."

  5. Representation and Mentorship: Dr. Grant emphasises the value of diverse representation, stating, "Having Pacific and non-Pacific mentors can offer valuable guidance and insights."

  6. Equitable Training Opportunities For All Staff: "Offering training to all levels of employees reflects an inclusive approach," Dr. Grant notes, "bridging skill gaps."

  7. Tackling Socioeconomic Challenges: Dr. Grant highlights the need for policies and initiatives that address poverty, institutional racism, and other socioeconomic factors impacting Pasifika communities.

Research Findings and Pathways Forward

Pasifika adult learners Construction

Dr. Grant's research, backed by the New Zealand Work Research Institute, highlights the complex challenges facing Pasifika communities in literacy and numeracy training. "Within these challenges lie promising solutions," Dr. Grant asserts, "community-led programs aligned with cultural values and learning needs."

Conclusion: A Collaborative Journey

Enhancing literacy and numeracy training for Pasifika adult learners demands collaboration among employers, educators, policymakers, and community leaders. Dr. Betty-Ofe Grant's invaluable insights provide a roadmap for a more equitable and prosperous future—one where Pasifika communities can reach their full potential and contribute to the diverse tapestry of New Zealand's society. As Dr. Grant aptly puts it, "We can empower Pasifika individuals to thrive academically and professionally by acknowledging and embracing cultural values and addressing socioeconomic barriers."


Listen to the full Podcast Interview with Dr. Betty Ofe-Grant.

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