New research published today by the Education Review Office (ERO) shows that Covid-19 has disproportionally and
significantly impacted Pacific learners.
"Pacific learners and communities have been remarkably resilient in facing the challenges of Covid-19. However, we found
that Pacific learners were disproportionately impacted. Two thirds of Pacific learners live in Auckland where schools
have been closed more than three times the number of days than the rest of the country. Pacific communities have
experienced higher levels of Covid-19, impacting on their learners. Pacific learners have also faced greater barriers to
learning as they were more likely to say they wouldn’t have access to a device to learn from at home," says ERO Chief
Executive and Chief Review Officer Nicholas Pole.
"There is a risk that Covid-19 will have long term impacts on Pacific learners. There are already some concerns about
the impact the disruption has had on engagement in education. Attendance rates for Pacific learners are falling behind
other groups - at the end of November last year attendance for Pacific students was only 47 percent. Our report shows
that Pacific learners’ achievement also fell in 2021.
"In addition to this, Pacific learners also told us how the pandemic had continued to impact them in terms of anxiety
and being overwhelmed transitioning in and out of lockdowns," says Pole.
Despite the impact of Covid-19 on education in NZ, Pacific learners’ families, communities, and schools have been
outstanding in supporting learners. Pacific learners reported feeling supported by the adults in their lives and had
people they could talk to if they had wellbeing or learning concerns. They were more likely to say they received extra
support from teachers following lockdown and there has also been an increase in Pacific families’ engagement with their
ERO’s new research provides examples of ways teachers, schools, and whānau worked to support learners during the
pandemic - something that ERO Pule Pasifika Taulea'leausumai, Violet Tu'uga Stevenson says should be celebrated and
"We have seen schools implement flexible timetables to help learners manage education and other responsibilities, such
as working or helping out at home. We have also seen schools innovate to make culture a visible part of learning,
celebrate pride in Pacific cultures, and working to make strong connections with Pacific learners to better understand
"We recommend that schools continue to do these things, along with taking proactive action to prioritise support for
Pacific learners. This could include programmes to catch up learning, combined supports for wellbeing, achievement and
attendance, and supporting students to continue with their learning while balancing family commitments," says Tu'uga
But schools can’t do this alone. With evidence of Covid-19 continuing to disproportionately impact Pacific communities,
now is the time for action to ensure Pacific learners are not further disadvantaged in the long term.
ERO recommends that education agencies work together to develop a specific response to raise achievement for Pacific
learners. This needs to address lost learning, helping those learners who are behind to catch up, and must focus on the
essential areas of literacy and numeracy.
ERO will also work specifically with those schools where Pacific learners’ progress and achievement has declined to help
them to find ways to improve Pacific learner outcomes, exploring and using the good practices in this report.
You can read the full report here: Learning in a Covid-19 World: The Impact of Covid-19 on Pacific Learners | Education
Review Office (ero.govt.nz