They've always been here but we could not hear them. we could not see them. New degree programmes in Pacific languages at the University of the South Pacific: Stories of success and determination

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At the University of the South Pacific’s 50th anniversary, we celebrated the introduction of degree programmes in Cook Islands Māori, Rotuman, Tongan and Niuafo’ou, Vagahau Niue, and Vanuatu Language Studies, alongside Fijian, the only language Indigenous to the region that had previously featured in our curriculum. For the first time, English is being challenged as the only language through which high-level concepts can be discussed, and through which academic research can be conducted. Pacific languages will now be taught in schools by teachers who are qualified to do so, rather than by fluent speakers trained to teach other subjects. Students can now submit assignments in their dominant language. The possibility of studying a Pacific lan-guage is becoming normalised. Our coming together here is to share the complexity of this story. We need to engage with this complexity and keep talking about why all of this matters. We need our institutional and politi-cal leaders and allies to understand that the actions we take at our university will impact the way the languages and cultures of this region are valued, used and transmitted to the next generations.
Year of Indigenous languages, Indigenous language education, Pacific Languages
State of the art of indigenous languages in research: a collection of selected research papers, 2022, pp. 264 - 269 (6)