Pasifika Pathway Project

MIT secondary school activities

The Pasifika Pathway Project – a pilot bridging programme based on micro-credentials – aims to support Pasifika students to successfully enrol in and complete the New Zealand Diploma in Engineering (NZDE).

Pilot micro-credentials engineering education pathway

Engineering e2e funded a feasibility study into developing a micro-credentials engineering education pathway for Pasifika students in South Auckland. 
See our info sheet on micro-credentials/feasibility studies

As a result of the feasibility study, a pilot programme is being trialled this year by Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT) with Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate (SEHC) and Tamaki College, members of the Achievement in Multi-cultural High Schools (AIMHI) group.

MIT/AIMHI partnership

The Pasifika Pathway Project is a partnership between MIT and AIMHI. AIMHI is a Ministry of Education project for nine Auckland decile 1 schools with a large proportion of Pasifika and Māori students.

The purpose of the project is to explore the use of micro-credentials to develop a bridging programme to prepare senior Pasifika students for engineering education. If the pilot is successful, it will be rolled out next year to include students from the other AIMHI schools.

Pasifika under-represented in engineering

Pasifika, who make up 13% of Auckland’s metropolitan population, are under-represented in engineering which has good employment prospects and rewards, and over-represented in careers with poorer opportunities.

There is a general lack of awareness in New Zealand around engineering study options and careers, and sometimes students learn about engineering when they’ve already dropped the requisite subjects. This is particularly so in Pasifika communities, who often associate engineering with manual labour rather than a career with many benefits.

The project aims to help AIMHI Pasifika students develop the skills needed for engineering study, provide a high-profile alternative pathway into engineering, and build on a range of interventions to promote STEM-related education options in schools with a significant Pasifika student body.

Why micro-credentials?

Dr Neel Pandey, Head of Professional Engineering at MIT, says micro-credentials have the potential to improve the flexibility and relevance of the education and training system, filling information gaps for employers, students and TEOs (Tertiary Education Organisations).

“Employers could more readily ‘see’ markers that an individual has a mix of skills and competencies that they value, particularly soft skills, core technical skills and skills in high demand. Students could have a better sense of how their learning is linked to the needs of employers, and the process of identifying gaps in skills and competencies could be made more efficient."

“Students can select micro-credentials to match their own learning needs and chart their own learning pathways as offered through the school’s NCEA credit system.”

Mapping a pathway from school into the NZDE

The feasibility study involved mapping NZDE courses against the NCEA curriculum and identifying the knowledge gap.

MIT Maths, Literacy and Engineering CAD lecturers and SEHC Maths, Technology and English teachers worked together to assess which parts of the NCEA curriculum fit with NZDE requirements – engineering students need a solid foundation in literacy, numeracy and thinking skills in addition to STEM subjects – and which additional knowledge and skills should be included in the pilot. 

Engineering competencies

The pilot

The pilot is being delivered to Year 12 students. They will spend one week of their Term 2 and 3 holidays, plus three weeks following their NCEA exams, at MIT where they will cover the knowledge gap in topics of NZDE courses. Those who successfully complete the courses can potentially progress directly into MIT’s NZDE programme next year or, if they’ve changed their mind, move on to their school’s general Year 13 programme.

Cross-crediting work towards NZDE courses

Students completing the Pathway course of NCEA Maths and Technology credits plus micro-credentials will be cross-credited towards 15-credit NZDE Engineering Mathematics (DE4102) and Technical Literacy (DE4103) courses. It is envisaged that the micro-credentials will lead to improved completion rates in Year 2 Maths and Technical Literacy courses.

Extending the pilot

At the end of the pilot, a final report will share the process and future plans with all stakeholders. If successful, the Pathway will be extended to include all AIMHI schools.

Students transitioning into the NZDE will be monitored for successful course completion and progression within the NZDE programme.

Our thanks to Neel for his time and advice; if you have any queries please contact

April 2019