Reading book series launched for 15 primary schools in Tonga

Efforts to encourage Tongan primary school students to read have been boosted with the launch of the Mafana Series reading books.

Funded by New Zealand in collaboration with the Pacific Literacy and School Leadership Program (PLSLP), University of Auckland and The University of the South Pacific Tonga Campus, the Mafana Series is written in both English and Tongan and it is available for Class 1 to Class 6.

During the recent launch, Member of Parliament, Lord Tu’i Ha’ateiho said, “today I recall with national pride the divine wisdom of his Late Majesty, King Tupou I, the famous father of Tongan modern Government.  At the closing of Parliament in the year 1882 quoted, I believe that if the language and the culture of any nation are lost that nation will be lost.”

New Zealand Deputy High Commission to Tonga Elena Procuta said the Mafana Series will be a great learning resource for all Primary Schools, it will enrich the conversation between Teachers and Children.

MET’s Teaching and Learning Deputy CEO ‘Isikeli Oko said that PLSLP is currently underway in the Pacific.

Countries like Solomon Islands and Cook Islands are undergoing PLSLP, but only for Classes 1 and 2.

“It was the intention that to improve the school leadership it will also improve literacy, and also to see the leadership transition from Classes 3 to 4 from Tongan Language to English Language,” Mr Oko said.

Acting Director of USP Tonga Campus, Dr. Seu’ula Johansson-Fua stated that PLSLP has given Tonga an important opportunity.

“The PLSLP has given the most valuable opportunity to the university and the trial of a new approach to literacy and learning in our region. We appreciate the trust in us that we may try something different, something creative and innovative, yet contextual and meaningful for our children.The resources that we launched today is a testimony to that trust,” she said.

Dr Johansson-Fua explained that a survey was conducted and the results show that many students do not understand the story after reading the books. She said the initiative also looked at teaching students to understand what they are reading.

She also acknowledged the contribution of the former Minister of Education and Training and an expertise in literacy Dr. ‘Ana Maui Taufe’ulungaki in compiling of the Mafana Series aimed to encourage students to read and to find happiness in reading.

The initiative was trialed in 15 primary schools in Tonga which included the Government Primary School of Haveluloto, GPS Tokomololo, GPS ‘Atele Si’i and GPS Veitongo.