Hon Priyanca Radhakrishnan (Minister for Youth and Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment) visited the Rotorua Youth Centre on 31 March to make a special announcement regarding the Ministry of Youth Development (MYD) Ākonga (student/learner) Youth Development Community Fund.

Check out our interview with her on our Youth Radio station. power.org.nz/2021/03/31/the-minister-of-youth-hon-priyanca-radhakrishnan

The Strengthening Ākonga Resilience to Achieve Better Education Outcomes (the Fund) was approved to support ākonga impacted by COVID-19 who are at risk of disengaging, or who have already disengaged from their education learning. Cabinet have approved funding over the next two years to support community-based youth development programmes that are delivered outside of traditional education settings (e.g. schools/kura). The Ministry of Youth Development is responsible for administering the Fund and will work in partnership with the Ministry of Education.

The aim of this Service funding is to engage, identify, and provide additional support to ākonga who have had their education impacted by COVID-19, and who are at risk of disengaging from their education or who have disengaged from their education learning and have no pathway into further training or employment.
It is expected that through community-based youth development support services, ākonga will achieve an improvement in their wellbeing through participation in quality, positive youth development initiatives.

The Rotorua Youth Centre and Te Waiariki Purea Trust successfully obtained some of this funding to run a new collaborative progamme called Te Hiringa. Te Hiringa is a 10 week programme for 15 year old youth (ākonga) who are not-enrolled (or who are disengaged) from education.
Using a holistic approach, a bi-cultural learning environment and a Te Ao Māori perspective, this programme aims to support the successful re-engagement of ākonga in to education or the
transition into further training or employment.
Te Hiringa involves whānau participation, and enables ākonga to build a vision for their future and be motivated to stay engaged in their educational journey to achieve that aspirational goal.

Te Hiringa includes outdoor experiential learning, aspirational pathway planning, employability and life skills, connection to education and employment pathways, holistic health and wellbeing services and support, creative arts programmes, and more!

Ākonga will have access to a team of specialist youth providers including adventure based learning facilitators, employability navigators, health and mental health practitioners, social workers,
and community, cultural support and more! Plus 6 months of ongoing coaching and mentoring as they reengage in learning.

The programme design is youth-centric; based on individual and whānau needs and aspirations; provides a supported pathway that aligns with their aspirations; achieves identified goals and positive outcomes; and actively engages ākonga and whānau throughout the process. It includes an intensive 10-week programme (including whānau participation); one on one support; home visits; whānau activities, brokering support back into education, training or employment; and six months follow up mentoring, coaching and transition support in their chosen pathway.