State Agency To Offer Staff Free Hawaiian Language Classes

Nov 26, 2019

The Hawaii Department of Education plans to offer free Hawaiian language courses to its employees, officials said.

The department’s 22,000 salaried employees, including 13,000 teachers, will be able to take courses beginning in January, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Monday.

The program is a partnership between the education department’s Office of Hawaiian Education and the University of Hawaii’s community colleges, officials said.

“We are excited to announce this new learning opportunity aimed at honoring the essential role that olelo Hawaii (Hawaiian language) plays in our educational system,” Hawaii Public School System Superintendent Christina Kishimoto said in a statement.

The education department has incorporated Hawaiian language, culture and history in its curriculum since an 80-year public education ban on the language was overturned at the 1978 state constitutional convention.

Education officials subsequently created the Hawaiian Studies Program, the Hawaiian Language Immersion Program and the Office of Hawaiian Education.

Employees can enroll in scheduled courses at seven community colleges beginning in the spring semester or join custom courses for education department staff groups, officials said.

Teachers completing courses will receive professional development credits, while other employees will be given college credit, officials said.

“This collaboration will support the advancement of Hawaiian language across public education,” University of Hawaii President David Lassner said in a statement.