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Kula Kaiapuni and Kula Kaiaʻōlelo

image‘Aha Pūnana Leo believes that every child in Hawai‘i has the right to a public Hawaiian medium education.

In 1985, as the first children graduated from Pūnana Leo preschools, ‘Aha Pūnana Leo and its supporters sought to overturn the 1896 law that banned Hawaiian language use in Hawaiʻi public K-12 schools. The first attempt was unsuccessful and in response, Pūnana Leo parents and supporters along with ‘APL formed a boycott school at the Pūnana Leo in Hilo.

For one year these kindergarten children were housed at this boycott school which was named Kula Kaiapuni Hawai‘i (Hawaiian Surrounding Environment School). ‘APL, along with parents and other supporters, continued to fight for Hawaiian medium education in the public schools. In 1987 they succeeded and the pilot program Kula Kaiapuni was opened in Hilo and in Waiau. The statewide K-12 program is known today as Kula Kaiapuni Hawai‘i or the Hawaiian Language Immersion Program and is administered under the State’s Department of Education. Today, there are 21 Kula Kaiapuni in the State of Hawai‘i.

image In addition to paving the way for Hawaiian immersion education in Hawai’i, ‘Aha Pūnana Leo and its consortium partner Ka Haka ʻUla o Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language of the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo has also provided ongoing support to the K-12 Kula Kaiapuni Hawai‘i program including funding teacher positions and school sites, developing and providing classroom materials and curriculum, developing Leokī, a Hawaiian language electronic bulletin board, and funding transportation to sites.

‘Aha Pūnana Leo is now focused on developing of an educational model in line with its Hawaiian language revitalization goals. The Kula Kaiaʻōlelo model is a cooperative effort between the Hawaiʻi State Department of Education, Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language of the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo and ‘Aha Pūnana Leo. Kula Kaiaʻōlelo are Hawaiian medium education sites where Hawaiian language is spoken by administrators, teachers and students and where Hawaiian cultural foundations are nurtured and practiced. ʻAha Pūnana Leo is currently assisting K-12 Kula Kaiapuni who want to adopt the Kula Kaiaʻōlelo model by receiving a laboratory school status.

imageIn 1997, Ke Kula ‘o Nāwahīokalani‘ōpu‘u became the first school to receive laboratory school status under Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke’elikōlani while still remaining a satellite school under the jurisdiction of Hilo High School.  ‘Aha Pūnana Leo has also assisted Ke Kula ‘o S. M. Kamakau, Ke Kula Ni‘ihau o Kekaha and Kawaikini. Kula Kaiaʻōlelo participate in the teacher training and curriculum development programs of Ka Haka ‘Ula o Ke‘elikōlani College.