Dr Akata Galuvao came to New Zealand in 1989 from Samoa as a teacher. She is a lecturer as well as a PhD candidate here at AUT.
While completing her studies for a Bachelor of Education, Postgraduate Diploma and Master of Education at the University of Auckland, Akata also taught at primary schools throughout Auckland.
Through her teaching she found the inspiration for her Doctor of Philosophy research; a difference in how Samoan, and other minority groups learn from other groups in society.
Akata worked with Samoan students from central, south and west Auckland high schools, analysing their tests and assessments. She believes these students are experiencing three contrasting cultures while living in New Zealand; they are sons and daughters of New Zealand Samoans; they are students within New Zealand culture; and they exist within a suburban culture as a New Zealand teenager.
Akata says when these students go to school, their thinking and their way of doing things are influenced by the curriculum, the New Zealand culture of the school, and also their peers and friends. But when they go home, there is a different culture all together.
Akata’s argument is that students don’t have the expected academic knowledge or culture to be able to succeed in certain tests or assessments. This leads to a mismatch of knowledge.
“The tests are geared towards a certain population of students and minority students do not have the same prior knowledge, background experience or world view as the majority of people sitting the test. It is an ongoing dilemma for our students.”