Faculty Pacific lecturers win Ako Aotearoa professional development scholarships

03 April 2017
Vaovasamanaia Meripa Toso
Vaovasamanaia Meripa Toso

Two academics from the Faculty of Education and Social Work – Vaovasamanaia Meripa Toso and Dr Rae Si’ilata – have recently been awarded Pacific Professional Development Fund scholarships by Ako Aotearoa – The National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence.

Meripa is a lecturer in the Pasifika Early Childhood Education specialisation programme, in the School of Critical Studies in Education. Meripa will use this scholarship to build on her existing networks in the early childhood education sector and to support her work relating to Pacific learners’ engagement with technology, Ako Aotearoa announced on its website.

Rae is a lecturer in Biliteracy-Pasifika/Teaching English in Schools to Speakers of Other Languages (TESSOL) in the School of Curriculum and Pedagogy. Rae's research centres on linguistically and culturally responsive teaching and learning for Pasifika learners. The scholarship will assist Rae to present her research at the World Indigenous People’s Conference on Education (WIPCE) in Toronto, Canada in 2017, Ako Aotearoa’s website says.

Dr Rae Si’ilata
Dr Rae Si’ilata

According to Associate Dean - Pasifika Dr Tanya Wendt Samu, “This is well-deserved recognition by our faculty, for both women given that staff must be nominated by their employers, who are in turn expected to match the amount of funding provided by Ako Aotearoa. It is also another significant collective milestone for the Kainga Pasifika."

A total of four Pacific tertiary teachers were awarded the professional development scholarships under Ako Aotearoa's inaugural Pacific Professional Development Fund this year.

Ako Aotearoa, in conjunction with its Pacific People’ Caucus, launched the fund in October 2016 to:

•    Support Pacific staff working in tertiary education organisations into leadership positions through career development.
•    Build leadership capacity to provide a platform for supporting Pacific learner success.