A Hawaii-based education is the best option for children in Hawaii

It has been two years since the Covid-19 pandemic began. Two years that the students have experienced a “normal” school day. Two years that parents have been rushed into homeschooling without a roadmap or lesson plan.

Even after two years, many families are still in limbo. Many still wonder if their keiki are behind because their schools were ill-prepared for a pandemic and unable to pivot productively.

Hawaii must act now to ensure our keiki are ready to lead us in the future, and this can be done using the tools already available.

The effect of the pandemic has been harsh and polarizing, especially when it comes to education. While many private schools were able to adapt quickly, families who depended on public education were left behind. Many public schools had no course plan and no comprehensive or uniform plan for health and wellness when students returned to campus.

We saw how ohana struggled to keep keiki connected to their upbringing while remaining rooted in their culture. As mothers, we experienced the challenges first hand and knew we could help make a difference. As parents, as educators, and as Native Hawaiians, we couldn’t let that happen. That’s why we created our own educational program: Ka Hale Hoaka.

Ka Hale Hoaka is the only Hawaii-based online educational program available to help students in traditional and homeschool environments and their families thrive during uncertain times. In addition to using traditional forms of teaching with a website, we also relied on social media to grow our community and help teach the lessons our keiki desperately needed.

Keeping Hawaiian culture alive

We offered free classes through Facebook Live, which helped our Kanaka- and Wahine-owned small business reach people around the world and thrive. We were able to share not only Olelo Hawaii but also our culture. We connected students through oli, crafts and other activities. By developing the lessons ourselves, we were able to weave together traditional and modern educational tools to bridge the cultural and educational divide created by the pandemic.

Our program started small with only a few hundred participants. Two years later, through live classes, contests, and sponsored Facebook ads, we’ve been able to connect with over 12,000 people who participate in free and paid classes and who now have a vested interest in continuing the Hawaiian culture.

Since Ka Hale Hoaka’s inception, we have been able to train a new cohort of Hawaiian language teachers and have been able to teach the Hawaiian language to communities as far away as Europe and New Zealand.

What our Keiki needs

As Hawaiians, we are raised to malama each other. As a kumu, Maile Naehu knew what needed to be done, what our keiki were missing as they spent days, weeks, months, now years, trying to learn in a different way. She also knew how important this cultural connection would be in helping Ohana meet the educational challenges presented.

Our program is created where we live. He has a sense of belonging, pride and connection. The online platforms currently provided to parents are developed on the continent, and while they are great for kids there, they lack what our keiki needs.

At a time when the high cost of living in Hawaii is driving families away from the islands, Ka Hale Hoaka offers them a way to keep them connected to their birthplace and culture no matter where they settle. Our programs are designed for the whole family to come together and share in this learning experience – where parents and children can be students together.

The program was developed by us: two working mothers who saw the need to teach their keiki at a time when the traditional education system could not. There needs to be a way to better integrate Indigenous language and culture into classrooms.

As Hawaiians, we are raised to malama each other.

Hawaii’s two official languages ​​are Olelo Hawaii and English, but the only distance learning available to most students, including those in immersion programs, was in English. If we could create a comprehensive curriculum in both Olelo Hawaii and English, there should be a way to use both in classrooms across the state. More courses based on Hawaiian culture and language need to be available not only for students, but also for teachers and parents who are raising these keiki to be better citizens of Hawaii.

The pandemic has certainly marked modern history, and while it has brought so much loss, it has also brought us opportunity. As moms, we live up to our keiki and our communities. We ensure that the history of our people, the foundations laid by our kupuna and the legacy of wahine’s incredible contributions lives on in our children.

We need to put programs in place that can educate our keiki and prepare them for the future. Two moms could do it. Hawaii can too.

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