Governor Recognizes ꞌAha Pūnana Leo for Receiving World’s First Accreditation of Preschools in an Endangered and Indigenous Language–October 24, 2014

Posted on Oct 28, 2014 in News and Updates

Gov. Neil Abercrombie has proclaimed Oct. 24, 2014, “ʻAha Pūnana Leo Day,” in recognition of it being awarded the world’s first accreditation of an early childhood education program conducted through an endangered and indigenous language by the World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium (WINHEC).

The Hawaiian language preschools of the ʻAha Pūnana Leo are Hawaii’s sole Hawaiian language-based nonprofit preschool organization. Its preschools, infant-toddler program, and administration were reviewed and evaluated in January under a newly created preschool through grade 12 accreditation process based on the United Nations guidelines for indigenous people’s education standards.

The accreditation serves as the base from which WINHEC seeks to develop distinctive support for indigenous early childhood education.

The WINHEC review team commended the ʻAha Pūnana Leo for the quality of its program and urged it to increase its attention to its role as an international leader and to continue to provide Hawaiian language education to its staff.

The ʻAha Pūnana Leo was founded in 1982 when a group of Hawaiian language educators, after consulting with elders, resolved that creating an environment where Hawaiian would be the ordinary language of interaction for children was key to the language’s survival. ʻAha Pūnana Leo’s first preschool was established in Kekaha on Kauai in August 1984, and has since expanded to 11 preschools on Hawaii, Molokai, Maui, Oahu, and Kauai. Language revitalization programs worldwide widely recognize the ʻAha Pūnana Leo as the model for education in an endangered and indigenous language revitalization movement.

The Executive Office on Early Learning congratulates ʻAha Pūnana Leo for its great achievement.