AUT lecturer Mele Ileini Tautakitaki was recently named as a member of the Ministry of Education’s Early Childhood Taskforce Advisory Group for children under the age of two.
The taskforce has been set up to make recommendations for the future direction of ECE in New Zealand over the next three to five years for children aged less than two years.
This group is in addition to another ECE advisory group, which will consider how to improve the quality of ECE services sector-wide.
The under twos group’s mandate is to draw on the expertise of its members to come up with workable solutions and provide practical and new ways of working to improve quality and consistency among ECE services.
The group’s members, which consist of nine experts in early childhood education (ECE) from across New Zealand, were selected based on a number of factors including experience, knowledge and understanding of the sector. The membership of each advisory group provides a range of perspectives from operational to academic.
Tautakitaki is the only Pasifika member of the group, and as such will ensure the group’s recommendations to the Minister acknowledge the diversity of cultures and backgrounds of children in New Zealand.
Says Tautakitaki, “Right now, one of Ministry of Education’s focuses is on increasing participation in early childhood education. The role of the Taskforce Advisory Group is to ensure that we’re also increasing the quality of the care and education for our children.
“My role within the group aligns with the work we do here at AUT; our practicum work and community involvement. It also means that in my role as a lecturer, I can provide that advice and support directly to our new, graduating teachers.”
Tautakitaki, who teaches on the National Diploma in Early Childhood Education (Pasifika) at AUT’s Manukau campus, says research has shown that children who experience a quality, robust ECE programme are more likely to become confident, competent children and adults in the future. Under twos in particular need to experience a strong sense of belonging, connection and feel well looked after for their general wellbeing.