As one of the lecturers on AUT’s Early Childhood Education (ECE) programme since 2012, Irene Paleai-Foroti feels blessed to be in a position where she is able to enrich others.
“The Pasifika ECE programme is unique to AUT and enriching,” says Irene. “Our students can contextualise their lived experiences referencing their cultural and indigenous knowledge, values and beliefs in education. I strongly believe that through this our students are contributing to New Zealand’s education system.
“I’ve learned so much from my student. In our classes we have reciprocal learning, where we share with each other and have discussions.”
Irene taught secondary teaching in Samoa before moving to New Zealand in 2002. She studied a Bachelor of Education and a Master of Education at the University of Auckland, graduating in 2012.
Irene is now taking on the challenge of completing a Doctor of Philosophy at AUT.
“I’m exploring the Samoan people’s view of play in ECE. I’m also looking at the translation of the word play in Samoan (ta’alo) and how that factors into the understanding of what play in ECE entails.”
Irene says working on this programme has helped her to pass on core Pacific beliefs and values that she has learned through her own lived experiences.
“Our curriculum encompasses our own experiences relating to the programme and we’re passing it on to our students. It feels like giving back, especially in the environment of AUT’s South campus."
“It feels like a community here. There are many Pacific students here taking different programmes and it’s empowering. It’s keeping our people well informed about concepts and practices in the New Zealand context.
“I really believe ECE is so important for our young people. It gives them a solid foundation of their culture and their language so that they can build from that as they grow.”