4 Sep 2020

More support sought for Pasifika students to stay in school

3:32 pm on 4 September 2020

A Pacific psychologist in New Zealand says Pasifika students should be encouraged not to leave school to help their families during the pandemic.

Dr Byron Seiuli.

Dr Byron Seiuli. Photo: Supplied/Pasifika Medical Association

The Pasifika Medical Association's Dr Byron Seiuli said while dropping out of school may be a short-term solution, it will not help Pasifika students or their families long-term.

Research showed those who leave school to help their families, struggle to return to their studies, said the Hamilton-based doctor.

"Many Pacific families have already sacrificed a lot to get their children through higher education so they can be in better paid employment and provide them with improved economic independence," he said.

"Once students leave school to work, they get set into a routine and it becomes harder to return to studies."

Many Pacific organisations have recognised the importance of supporting students to continue their education, said Dr Seiuli, by providing laptops and reliable internet connections in care packages - such as the recent work by the Tongan Health Society Langimalie.

But more can be done by schools and the community to encourage students to stay in school, he noted, such as offering scholarships.

"One of the things that has been helpful in the past is for Pacific people coming up with their own solutions.

"Mentoring youth and having fono's as an avenue for them to talk about solutions will help them feel safe and included."