The state Department
of Education plans to offer free Hawaiian language courses to all of its employees, beginning in January.
The courses will be offered to the department’s 22,000 salaried employees, including 13,000 teachers, through a partnership
between the DOE’s Office
of Hawaiian Education and the University of Hawaii’s community colleges.
“We are excited to announce this new learning opportunity aimed at honoring the essential role that ‘olelo Hawai‘i (Hawaiian language) plays in our educational system,” schools Superintendent Christina Kishimoto said in a statement. In addition, she thanked the university for partnering with
the Education Department “as we work to increase the relevance and awareness of Hawai‘i’s unique educational context.”
The Education Department has made a major push to incorporate Hawaiian language, culture and history into its curriculum since a roughly 80-year ban on the language in the public education system was overturned at the 1978 state Constitutional Convention.
Since then the Education Department has created the Hawaiian Studies Program, the Hawaiian Language Immersion Program and the Office of Hawaiian Education.
“This collaboration will support the advancement of Hawaiian language across public education,” UH President David Lassner said in a statement. “UH faculty have been at the core of the revitalization of ‘Olelo Hawai‘i through decades of amazing work.”
The classes will be offered beginning with UH’s spring semester. Education Department employees will have two options: enrolling in a scheduled course at any of the state’s seven community colleges or joining a custom course for a group of DOE employees.
Teachers who complete courses will receive professional development credits; all other employees will earn college credit.