Native Hawaiians and Pacific islanders struggle with low college participation and high attrition rates, yet scholars say these students have often been overlooked in extensive discussions about the equity gap in higher education. But more attention is being paid to their unique challenges as higher ad leaders across the country focus more on improving academic outcomes for under-represented students on their campuses and collecting better research and data about their needs.
Indigenous Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders are members of more than 20 indigenous peoples of the Pacific Islands. According to a 2020 report by APIA Scholars, a nonprofit organization focused on academic success among Americans in the Asian and Pacific Islands, more than half of those who live in the United States have never attended college. Many of those enrolled do not complete their degree অর্ half of the native Hawaiians, more than 58 percent of Samoans, and 54 percent of Tongans who go to college leave without graduating.
Pearl Imada Iboshi, who directs the Institutional Research and Analysis Office at the University of Hawaii Systems, said campus leaders have noticed that degree attainment rates are particularly high among their native Hawaiian and Pacific island students, among Filipino students. State.
According to the 2019 U.S. Census Bureau, only 10.6 percent of native Hawaiians or people who are part-Hawaiians, 11.5 percent of Pacific islanders, and 18 percent of Filipinos have an associate degree or higher in a state over the age of 25.
“We’re really focused on trying to bridge that gap,” Iboshi said.
To support that effort, the Lumina Foundation donated $ 575,000 to the University of Hawaii Systems to increase the share of local Hawaiians, Pacific islanders and Filipino college certificate holders in the state, according to a foundation announcement earlier this month. The university aims to increase the attainment rate in these groups by five percentage points in the next four years. The grant is part of the Talent, Innovation and Equity Partnership, a Lumina Foundation program that works to increase the number of residents pursuing and completing college certifications in specific states.
“We are grateful to the Lumina Foundation for this timely and significant opportunity to strengthen our work to promote educational equality in Hawaii by providing a broader data-informed focus on historically marginalized populations and enhancing relevant educational outcomes,” said David Laws, President of the University of Hawaii. He said this in the notification.
The University of Hawaii plans to use the funds to create a strategic plan that focuses on improving academic outcomes for these student groups. Some of the grant money will help create a better academic path for high-demand jobs with local employers. It will fund the work of the Hawaii P-20, a partnership of education and business leaders and state policymakers that aims to ensure that by 2025, 55 percent of working-age adults in the state have a degree or certificate. The university plans to expand professional development opportunities for faculty members to teach local Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, Filipino and other minority students in a more culturally responsive way.
The move is in line with the university’s ongoing efforts to offer more courses in Native Hawaiian language, culture and history to attract and retain more Native Hawaiian students.
“Students’ success really starts in the classroom, ”Iboshi said.
Data from the Lumina Foundation shows that 50.7 percent of Hawaii residents, aged 25 to 64, hold a college degree or certificate, slightly behind the national average of 51.9 percent. Only 11.6 percent of Hawaii residents of that age group had an associate’s degree and 23.3 percent had a bachelor’s degree in 2019.
Iboshi noted that Native Hawaiians experienced a “sharp decline” in enrollment at the University of Hawaii Systems during the epidemic, which worried him and his colleagues. Enrollment of Native Hawaiian and Part-Hawaiian students dropped from 7,307 students to 7,030 between the fall of 2019 and 2021, down 3.8 percent.
“We’re definitely trying to reverse that fall and really try to move forward,” he said. Native Hawaiians and part-time Hawaiians make up about 20 percent of the state’s population, so he believes the fall will likely contribute to the state’s workforce deficit amid epidemics, including in areas such as education, nursing and information technology.
Amanda Delarosa, Lumina’s state policy strategy officer, said the epidemic had devastated Hawaii’s economy and created an “immediate need and clear opportunity” to focus on education inequality in the state.
“Their industries were thrown into disaster because they depended on tourism and hospitality,” he said. “And they’ve learned that their native Hawaiian indigenous communities in particular are often trapped in occupations that do not lead to family-sustainable wages.”
Native Hawaiians and Pacific islanders come from low-income families. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 14.8 percent of the country’s Native Hawaiians and 9 percent of white Americans living in the Pacific Islands live in federal poverty. The unemployment rate for these groups in 2019 was 5.9 percent, compared to 3.7 percent for their white counterparts.
Robert Ternishi, Morgan and Helen Chu Endod Chair of Asian American Studies, and professor of education at the University of California, Los Angeles, said in an email that local Hawaiians and Pacific islanders face the same barriers as rural students. These challenges include “lack of access to information, knowledge and resources”, how to navigate the college, “low rate of intergenerational mobility and lack of proximity to higher education institutions.”
He noted that these students are concentrated in colleges and universities in Hawaii and the Pacific Islands, and in service providers in Asian American and Native American-Pacific Islander-other states.
“An important way to understand the experience of NHPI students is through the lens of migration,” he said. “There is a huge movement of NHPI students from the U.S. Pacific Islands as well as from the Pacific to continental U.S. institutions.” As a result, both types of institutions “need more attention and resources” to help these students succeed academically.
He further noted that there is a historical lack of awareness in higher education about the needs of local Hawaiians and Pacific islanders due to a lack of clear information. Federal data classified native Hawaiians and Pacific islanders as Asian until the Office of Management and Budget required that the population be given its own classification in 1997. Now colleges and universities need to report enrollment data for native Hawaiians and Pacific islanders separately from Asians. Students are subject to the federal government, but “this does not mean that colleges will actually report or use this information at an institutional level,” he said. Even after that change in criteria, these students continue to have a “severely low count” because they are randomly assigned to two or more races and often end up in the “two or more races” section of the data set, even if they identify as Hawaiian and Pacific islanders.
The long-standing perception of Asians as another subclass of Native Hawaiian and Pacific islanders and the practice of including them in Asian student outcome data continues to obscure significant inequalities, says Kirin A. In Macapu, the vice chairman of the Higher Education Committee is the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs, which advises the governor’s office and the state legislature on the needs of these communities.
For example, he points to a recent report by Campaign for College Opportunity, a California-based organization focused on closing the equity gap in education, which found that only 22 percent of adults in California’s native Hawaiian and Pacific Islands have a degree. 59 percent of Asian Americans. However, he said the study found that differences between these racial divisions are rare.
When Native Hawaiians and Pacific islanders are considered an Asian subgroup, they fall prey to model minority mythology, or the false notion that all Asian American communities are socio-economically and academically more prosperous than other minority groups. There are. He is Professor of Human Services at San Diego City College and a member of the District Board of Trustees of Southwestern Community College.
“Because our Pacific Islands students are stuck with the rest of us, their voices, their cries can’t be heard,” he said. “You have all the communities who feel invisible because of this model minority myth that all AAPI is doing well. And that’s not true. There is a lot of struggle, a lot of diversity and socio-economic inequality. It’s like screaming at the top of your lungs and no one can hear you. “