Local nonprofits held a rally at the Hawaiʻi state capitol building yesterday to raise awareness about the importance of early childhood education.
Partners in Development Foundation (PIDF), Keiki O Ka ʻAina (KOKA), and the Institute for Native Pacific Education and Culture (INPEACE), members of the ʻEleu hui, brought together their staff, program caregivers and keiki, and members of the community to rally for Family Child Interaction Learning (FCIL).
A Yearly Gathering
Founded over 15 years ago to support Native Hawaiian early learning and strengthening families, ʻEleu is a collective of five early childhood education agencies: ʻAha Pūnana Leo, ALU LIKE, Inc., INPEACE, KOKA Family Learning Centers, and PIDF.
The annual event saw hundreds of adults and keiki fill the capitol’s ground floor rotunda. The groups organized games, educational activities, and short speeches by local leaders like PIDF’s president and founder, Jan E. Hanohano Dill.
“Challenge our policy makers today to show them that this is a community committed to the success of our children,” said Dill. “Our children will define what Hawaiʻi is 20 to 30 years from now.”
Participants had the opportunity to go door-to-door around the state government offices to greet their representatives, and present them with a simple gift of a Native Hawaiian plant and card meant to be both tokens of appreciation, and reminders of the important work being done within and outside of the House and Senate chambers.
While visiting with the legislators, staff and families talked about early and family education, and told stories of what these programs meant to themselves and their communities. The passion and commitment to Hawaiʻi’s keiki was evident, and left capitol representatives and staff with three important words: “Pehea nā keiki?” (How are the children?)
Statewide recognition of early learning’s importance
Recently, the Executive Office of Early Learning (EOEL) created a five-year (2019-2024) plan to address the high-priority needs of early childhood education in Hawaiʻi.
The plan addresses our shared priorities and drives the need for educational groups to collaborate with one another and leverage resources to improve the lives of our keiki and their families.
Provided with high-quality early learning programs, keiki are “more likely to succeed in kindergarten and beyond, and more likely to grow into healthy, capable, and contributing adults,” according to the EOEL website.
While traditionally pre-k education has been considered arbitrary preparation for kindergarten, current data shows that education prior to kindergarten impacts a child throughout their school career — everything from vocabulary skills to high school completion.
During his State of the State address on January 22, Hawai’i Governor David Ige announced that one of his main priorities for his second term is to create a universal, statewide high-quality public preschool system “that will give every child in Hawaiʻi a head start on learning.”
The initiative particularly targets outer islands, where affordable quality education is not as available to families and where early education efforts are most needed.
“Of all the initiatives upon which we’ve embarked,” Ige announced, “I believe this one will make the greatest difference in preparing our children for the future and in creating a 21st century workforce.”
Mahalo nui again to our ʻEleu partners, our staff, our program ʻohana, and all those who made the 2019 ʻEleu Rally for Early Education a success!