for Early Education Through Indigenous Languages For The World
Hilo, Hi, February 4, 2014: The 'Aha Punana Leo,
Language Nest Foundation, continues to make indigenous language
education history. The organization has now opened a pathway for
distinctive accreditation of indigenous early education across the
globe through guidelines set by the World Indigenous Nations Higher
Education Consortium (WINHEC).
The 'Aha Punana Leo's system of eleven Punana
Leo preschools, one infant daycare program and State-wide Administrative
office was evaluated last week in a new preschool through high school
(P-12) accreditation standards based on indigenous education guidelines
under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous
Peoples. It is the world's first indigenous accreditation for early
education and the base from which WINHEC seeks to develop distinctive
support for indigenous early education worldwide.
'Aha Punana Leo Executive Director, ?Ekekela
Aiona, is very pleased with the outcome, "This accreditation is
part of the long process of revitalizing the language and reestablishing
high quality distinctive Hawaiian language medium education." Use
of Hawaiian was illegal in schools for 90 years. The 'Aha Punana
Leo lead the movement to remove that ban and has been the primary
private entity supporting development of education through Hawaiian
from preschool on to the doctorate level. This system is widely
recognized for its success by language revitalization programs worldwide
and serves as the model for education in an endangered and indigenous
language revitalization movement.
The next step will be for the 'Aha Punana Leo
to seek acceptance of WINHEC accreditation by the State of Hawai'i.
The goal is to allow substitution of international WINHEC accreditation
for regional U.S. English language medium accreditation, resulting
in state financial support to Hawaiian language medium preschools
equal to that given English medium preschools.
WINHEC began as an accrediting entity for higher
education. In 2010, WINHEC moved from working in Europe, New Zealand,
Australia, and Canada to accrediting indigenous higher education
in the United States. The first WINHEC accreditation in the U.S.
was the College of Hawaiian language at the University of Hawai'i
at Hilo. The 'Aha Punana Leo provides a P-12 campus for the laboratory
school of that college. When WINHEC decided to move into accrediting
early childhood education, its international board was already familiar
with the 'Aha Punana Leo and felt it would be an excellent initial
program with which to implement the accreditation process.
For the recent groundbreaking early childhood
education accreditation visit, a diverse and distinguished group
of international educators were brought to Hawai'i. WINHEC's team
included Dr. Timoti Karetu, of the Wananga O Aotearoa Maori University
in New Zealand and Board Member of the Maori language Kohanga Reo
preschools, Professor Asta Balto, Past President of the indigenous
National State Sami University College of Norway, Dr. Ray Barnhardt,
Professor and Director of the Center for Cross-Cultural Studies
from the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, and local Hawaiian educators
Dr. Walter Kahumoku III, Director of the Public Education Support
Division of the Kamehameha Schools and Dr. Kanoe Naone, CEO of INPEACE.
In an initial report to the 'Aha Punana Leo,
the evaluation team commended the 'Aha Punana Leo for its work and
urged it to increase its attention to its role as an international
leader. The evaluation team will present its findings to the WINHEC
board for its decision regarding the accreditation with final results
of the evaluation visit available by the end of summer.
For information or to make a tax-deductible donation
to the 'Aha Punana Leo, visit www.ahapunanaleo.org