As demand for the Ministry for Pacific Peoples’ (MPP) flagship Toloa initiative grows, updated thinking is needed to underpin the programme.
Toloa National Manager Florence Malama says the Toloa initiative is evolving to better suit the requirements of Pacific Aotearoa.
Established in 2015, Toloa was set up to support Pacific students to pursue studies in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), but this year, it has expanded its reach to include Arts students.
“So, STEM has become STEAM,” Florence says.
“The importance of the Arts in STEAM is recognised globally and from 2022, the Toloa programme is exploring meaningful ways in how the Creative Arts exists within Pacific STEAM careers.”
Florence adds Creative Arts is a growing area for definition and programme development and for now, it is defined within the Toloa programme as creative and innovative skills, processes and knowledge that are transferable into STEM careers – including liberal arts, language arts, social studies, physical arts, fine arts, performance arts and music.
The evolution of Toloa has come about after the Ministry developed a tangible strategic goal of shifting Pacific peoples into STEAM employment from 2.8 percent to 8 percent by 2028.
“This approach has identified opportunities for the Ministry to focus Toloa initiatives to better align with future STEAM job demands, and as a result we have reviewed and amended the programme to better align with the strategic direction set,” Florence says.
The revamped Toloa programme has key changes including the merging of Kenese and Community funding into one fund – the Community Impact Fund.
Toloa Scholarships have expanded their reach beyond tertiary students by accepting applications from those in vocational education as well as university pathways.
In addition, Toloa Scholarships will be offered to up to 150 Pacific secondary school students throughout the country (Year 9 to 13) to encourage the pick-up and success of STEAM related courses earlier in secondary school.
Florence explains a wellbeing programme will provide wraparound pastoral support for all scholarships students.
“The key focus will help to not only boost the numbers, but more importantly sustain Pacific through STEAM pathways, while a secondary school STEAM challenge will include bringing all scholarship recipients together over a two-day weekend to work on relevant Pacific STEAM challenges.”
These changes to Toloa will benefit Pacific Aotearoa, encouraging them and increasing the number of people to enter STEAM pathways, she adds.
“The future workforce and job demands will require STEAM dependent skills, and these changes will contribute to close the inequitable gaps serving as barriers for our Pacific peoples to entering these pathways.”
There are many advantages to applying for the Toloa programme.
Scholarships pathways will help to provide financial support and access to a wide avenue of STEAM networks such as providers, key stakeholders, employers and alumni; and the Community Impact Fund is an opportunity for providers who are currently already doing great things in STEAM.
“It will help them to strengthen and boost their services to help achieve the much-needed seismic shifts required for our Pacific peoples in this space.”