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Members of the Kelley family — Sanoe, Mataio, Joel, and rising fifth grader Timoteo — helped pass out computers during the distribution at Ke Kula Kaiapuni ʻo Ānuenue Hawaiian language immersion school.

KS creates digital connections for Hawaiian language learners

July 12, 2021

Contributed by Nadine Lagaso

A new Kamehameha Schools community collaboration is helping to connect public school students with free computers, starting with haumāna at Ke Kula Kaiapuni ʻo Ānuenue Hawaiian language immersion school.

Under the three-year Hoʻolako Home partnership, Kamehameha Schools is providing funding for the non-profit organization Hawaiian Hope to refurbish up to 7,500 donated devices. KS identified 36 schools on Oʻahu and the neighbor islands that will be included in the initial distribution phase.

“For many families and many students, the Hawaiian language may not be in the home with them and yet we know that the language is critical to academic success,” said Kaʻanoʻi Walk KSK’99, a senior policy analyst with KS’ Hiʻialo Group. “During the pandemic, the only connection for many families was through the computer and internet to get that repetition, to hear the language, and without that source or resource, there’s definitely concern about academic slide as far as continuing to master the language of instruction.”

Students at Ke Kula Kaiapuni ʻo Ānuenue received the first computers during two drive-through events in June at the Palolo campus and KS’ Community Learning Center at Māʻili. A total of 237 devices were given out.

“I thought it would be good because a lot of the students were borrowing devices from the school,” said Stephanie Medina, tech coordinator at Ānuenue. “There were very few that didn’t need one. We have a lot of low-income students so I’m sure the fact of getting a computer when they couldn’t afford one, helps.”

Once a school is designated for a distribution, students apply through Kaulu by KS Digital, a new learning portal that will grow to link haumāna and ʻohana to a range of community-created learning options.

“This is a great way to show these schools, these communities, these ʻohana that we do support Hawaiian culture-based education and want them to continue to be connected digitally as we continue to expand Kaulu by KS Digital, offering more opportunities to haumāna through the years to come,” explained Walk.

With many Hawaiʻi schools planning to focus on in-person instruction this fall, supporting digital equity in education remains a priority for KS. “Even if there is a return to the school, supplementing education through technology is the future that we see and are investing in,” said Walk.

Volunteers helped to load devices into vehicles during the drive-through event at KS’ Community Learning Center at Māʻili.

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