News Story

Christchurch Family Focuses on Lifting Literacy

In the last 15 years the Riwai-Couch family has rarely missed a Monday night together. It is at that time that the Latter-day Saint family spend an hour together to plan their week, discuss gospel topics, sing songs and play games.  

This Monday will be different with three family members travelling to Brisbane to participate in an international literacy conference taking place at the Queensland University of Technology.  

Mother Melanie, 12-year-old son Brigham and 10-year-old daughter Mei are part of the Wai Study Help programme that has been applauded for increasing Maori student achievement in English literacy.

Melanie created the programme as part of her doctoral research at the University of Canterbury.  

Maori achievement in schools is an area of concern for the New Zealand Education system which reports Maori students perform less well than their non-Maori peers, despite being taught in the same schools.

The Wai Study Help programme brings together different groups who all have a common interest, in this case supporting Maori student achievement. Students in the programme receive free one-on-one and small group tuition from student teachers studying at the University of Canterbury. Community tutors are also involved along side Ngai Tahu (the local Maori tribe) and community sponsors. 

Outcomes of the project include increases of more than four years reading progress in a six month period.

After  the conference the group will be visiting the Brisbane Museum, the Latter-day Saint temple at Kangaroo Point, a theme park on the Gold Coast and an aboriginal cultural centre. The group is returning to New Zealand on Tuesday 9 July.

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