Thursday | May 21, 2015
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Punana Leo seeks world’s first indigenous preschool accreditation

On Sept. 17-18, the World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium (WINHEC) Board of Affirmation/Accreditation gathered at Dong Hwa University in Hualien, Taiwan, to consider applications from potential candidates for WINHEC’s new P-12 accreditation.

Hawaii’s Punana Leo Preschools were selected as the world’s first early education program to be evaluated for accreditation under WINHEC’s new P-12 Accreditation Guidelines developed under principles articulated by the United Nations for the education of indigenous peoples.

ʻAha Punana Leo Board President Kauanoe Kamana said she is pleased with the news.

“Hawaiian is an official language of Hawaii and legal provisions exist for preschool to graduate level education through the medium of the Hawaiian language. We need distinctive accreditation for schooling through Hawaiian,” she said.

“In 2010, Hawaiian medium education at Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikolani College of Hawaiian Language received the first U.S. university level accreditation from WINHEC. It was at that time that the Punana Leo program was visited by members of the WINHEC accreditation team, as we provide a laboratory school setting for Ka Haka ʻUla teacher training.

“We are optimistic that the Punana Leo preschools will now be the first in the world accredited by WINHEC at the early childhood education level.

“When the first Punana Leo school began in 1984, an 1896 ban on the use of Hawaiian as a medium of education was still in effect,” she said. “While that outright ban has been removed, Hawaiian-medium education continues to face barriers and pressures.” Visit


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