Support for Education a Key Focus of Mana i Mauli Ola

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OHA’s 15-year strategic plan aims to affect change in the areas of education, health, housing, and economics

“Ma ka hana ka ʻike. Ma ka ʻike ka mana; Through work comes knowledge. Through knowledge comes power.” – ʻŌlelo Noʻeau

Educational PathwaysIt’s been called the foundation of a society. The great equalizer. The way that economically and socially marginalized people can lift themselves out of poverty and become fully participative citizens.

As the Office of Hawaiian Affairs embarks on its new strategic plan, the agency has responded to community manaʻo by establishing four strategic directions that are key to impacting lāhui wellbeing: Educational Pathways, Economic Stability, Quality Housing and Health Outcomes.

By using ʻohana-, moʻomeheu-, and āina-based approaches within these areas where Native Hawaiians face challenges, OHA continues to support the movement of the lāhui toward mauli ola, or total wellbeing, in education, economic stability, housing and health, recognizing that education begins with the ʻohana and the community in which a child is raised – this is where values, knowledge and wisdom are exemplified, modeled and lived.

Through its Mana i Mauli Ola plan, OHA continues its support of initiatives, leveraged collaborations, and engagement in strategies to develop educational pathways that strengthen culture- and ʻāina-based education, early education, K-12 and post-secondary education, ensuring that Native Hawaiians are grounded in their past while developing and applying new ʻike and practices.

Hawaiian aliʻi such as Bernice Pauahi Bishop knew that education was the key to Native Hawaiians’ ability to survive and thrive in the Western world. The efforts of Kanaeokana to collaboratively develop and strengthen the Native Hawaiian education system, focusing on ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi and ʻike Hawaiʻi, are taking things to the next level.

“We know from research that Native Hawaiian students who are in culture-based educational settings – and/or ʻāina-based educational settings – have stronger connections to their culture, have better outcomes on various educational academic measures, and basically have better attitudes toward learning,” said OHA Research Director Dr. Lisa Watkins-Victorino.

OHA’s educational strategies include supporting development and use of educational resources for all Native Hawaiian lifelong learners in schools, communities and ʻohana, and supporting education through Hawaiian language medium and Hawaiian-focused charter schools.

“Part of rebuilding the Hawaiian worldview, the Hawaiian perspective, is reorganizing the way that we construct the educational experience and reshape youth to actually resemble where they come from, and to feel more pride and less negativity toward our own individual identity and collective identity,” said Kalehua Krug, poʻo kumu at Ka Waihona o Ka Naʻauao Public Charter School.

Krug said OHA support for education in the Hawaiian community is not new.

“For charter schools, we definitely focus on that community relationship because we depend on our community as our supporters and our stakeholders. We use OHA funds for many different expenditures, but the main tool is for transportation and staffing. Those are very important, as we know many of our kids live in areas that are far from the school – which provides opportunity to access Ka Waihona from farther distances out into Mākaha and Keaʻau.”

Krug said he is sold on the value of Hawaiian-culture based education.

“School is an institution that has become legitimized as a place to build excellence, and to put folks forward into the real world. So this idea of reestablishing normalcy in Hawaiʻi, as Hawaiian, that it’s reestablishing a Hawaiian normal – our ways, our language, our beliefs, our culture – can be very valuable to establishing a new future for our students.”

“Probably the greatest value that I see and appreciate about a Hawaiian-focused charter school education is that I have an opportunity to positively affect the lives of kiddos who are just like me when I was little, and inspire them long term,” said Kamehaihilani Waiau, poʻo kumu at Ke Kula ʻo Samuel M. Kamakau Laboratory Public Charter School.

“Helping you to build relationships, long term relationships with ʻohana, it’s probably one of the greatest values of working, living, learning, and just being in a Hawaiian-focused charter school environment.”

Waiau said she is glad to see OHA continue to focus its efforts on supporting education in the Hawaiian community.

“OHA has been very helpful across all of these years in areas of policy and legislation,” she said. “And the department within OHA that works on advocacy has been really awesome and super helpful.

“And as a leader, as a kumu who is going in front of certain senate committees or house committees to share testimony in support or against certain things that directly affect my kula or our funding, it’s been really helpful and really inspiring to have OHA’s support in those areas. It feels like oh, somebody’s got your back.

“I just hope that wherever we are in the next 15 years, it’s someplace that we were all able to contribute to. I would be honored and blessed to play a role in that, and I have no doubt that OHA is gonna play a significant role in that as well.”

OHA’s Strategic Plan “Mana i Mauli Ola” (Strength to Wellbeing) includes three foundations: ʻohana (family), moʻomeheu (culture), and ʻāina (land and water). OHA recognizes these foundations have the power to affect the wellbeing of Native Hawaiians. Therefore, they are woven into OHA’s plans to affect change in the areas of education, health, housing, and economics. These four directions will be used to guide OHA’s work to better the conditions of Native Hawaiians. Over the next 15 years, OHA will be implementing strategies, aligned with our foundations and directions, to achieve our envisioned outcomes for a thriving and abundant lāhui.

Supporting initiatives, leveraging partnerships, engaging in strategies to develop educational pathways that strengthen culture-based education, early education, K-12 and post-secondary education will ensure that Native Hawaiians are grounded in their past while participating in a technologically oriented future.

Outcome: Strengthened and Integrated Community, Culture-Based Learning Systems

Strategy 1: Support development and use of educational resources for all Hawaiian lifelong learners in schools, communities and ʻohana.

Strategy Outcomes:

  • 1.1. Increase number or percent of Native Hawaiian students who enter educational systems ready to learn;
  • 1.2. Increase number or percent of Native Hawaiian students graduating high school who are college, career, and community ready; and
  • 1.3. Increase number of Native Hawaiians engaged in traditional learning systems (i.e., hale, hālau, hale mua, hale peʻa) that reestablish/maintain strong cultural foundations and identity.

Strategy 2: Support education through Hawaiian language medium and focused Charter Schools.

Strategy Outcomes:

  • 2.1. Adequately resource Hawaiian Focused Charter Schools and Hawaiian medium schools, including funding of transportation, special education, facilities, and meals, and availability of qualified teachers;
  • 2.2. Increase availability of Hawaiian Focused Charter Schools and Hawaiian medium schools; and
  • 2.3. Establish a Native Hawaiian Charter School and Hawaiian-medium system.