Education is one of the most important tools a student can have; it allows for social mobility, awareness, individual growth, and the knowledge to change their community. Our children deserve the right to have an education with the proper supplies. However, NHPI face many barriers to their academic success. They often cannot get the education they deserve, limiting their opportunities in life. NHPI face lower UC admission rates than average. Tongans have a 42% UC admission rate, which is the lowest of any ethnic group in the United States. A bachelor’s degree is the key to many paths toward social mobility, but only 18% of NHPI have a bachelor’s or higher by the age of 25 (Community of Contrasts). Within that group, Tongans have an even lower bachelor’s degree attainment at 13% by age 25. This degree attainment level is lower than any other ethnic group outside of NHPI and represents the glaring gap that NHPI must cross to forge better lives.
Unfortunately, these statistics for individuals also have larger implications for their communities. Because many individuals cannot speak English or have uncertain immigration statuses, their lives bank on the success of individuals reaching higher education and social mobility. This is even more prescient for NHPI since community members are inextricably intertwined with each other. Different families have strong ties across the neighborhoods, and their successes are all intertwined.
MALO is working with families to provide their children with the tools for academic success with its annual backpack/school supply drive and IKUNA youth workshops. We want to empower young Tongans to take pride in their culture and education as they access the tools to improve their society.