While many of our students, staff and school communities honor the Hawaiian language throughout the year, February holds the special distinction of being Hawaiian Language Month or Mahina ‘Ōlelo Hawai‘i.
Both English and Hawaiian are official languages of Hawai‘i. The Department continuously strengthens its commitment to Hawaiian enrichment by uniquely engaging its educators, community leaders, parents and supporters in cultural awareness and revitalization programs. A longstanding example of this commitment is Ka Papahana Kaiapuni Hawai‘i, the Department’s Hawaiian Language Immersion Program, which was established in 1987. The Kaiapuni program educates approximately 3,200 haumāna at 19 HIDOE schools and six public charter schools through the medium of Hawaiian language. English is introduced as a subject starting in grade 5.
Among the continued efforts of Hawaiian education, the Department recognized the need for student report cards to reflect its commitment to a dual-language system. Having report cards in Hawaiian helps foster strong engagement in the Kaiapuni program.
"The birth of Kaiapuni report cards has been a generative process,” Kauʻi Sang, director of the Office of Hawaiian Education, said. “This project is an indicator of the Department’s potential to be flexible to the needs of the communities it serves. Such efforts not only benefit our haumāna kaiapuni, but staff who have found purpose and safety to use and grow their own ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi practice.”
The Department began the rollout Hawaiian report cards to elementary schools during the second quarter of the 2019-20 school year and is working on extending this project to secondary schools. In addition to Kaiapuni families, report cards are available in Hawaiian for any family that indicates Hawaiian is the preferred language in their household on their Student Enrollment Form.
“A special mahalo goes out to Poʻokumu (Principal) Makala Paʻakaula. Her commitment to ʻohana Kaiapuni and her recognition of the importance of moʻolelo and moʻokūʻauhau was critical in establishing this very relevant and equitable practice,” Sang added.
This project has created opportunities for HIDOE families who speak languages other than English. In the school year 2018-19, there were 32,044 English Learners in Hawai‘i public schools, representing approximately 19% students. The Department is now working to provide report cards in other languages.