21 Jan 2016

School programme needed for overseas born Tongans - report

6:00 am on 21 January 2016

A report on overseas born Tongans attending school in the kingdom suggests a programme is needed to avoid instances of bullying, violence and discomfort.

The report was submitted to parliament by La Trobe University's Helen Lee.

Professor Lee says overseas Tongans often struggle culturally, are sometimes ridiculed and encounter violence more frequently than they might at home.

She says students say there are a number of ways their experience could improve, including holding inductions both before and after arriving in Tonga.

"They wanted lots more information-sharing. They wanted a support group so they got to meet up with each other accross different high schools so that they could actually share their experiences. Generally a more structured approach to it so that they felt more welcomed and more informed."

Professor Lee says despite the challenges students usually benefit in the long-term, particularly through a new sense of identity and belonging.