Published Mar 31, 2021
One of New Zealand’s largest philanthropic organisations recently recognised the potential benefits of KiVa—a bullying prevention programme developed in Finland and introduced into New Zealand by Wellington UniVentures—by funding its adoption into a group of Canterbury schools over the next three years.
The KiVa programme is the latest addition to the raft of projects that Rātā Foundation currently funds, all of which are aimed at supporting communities in Canterbury, Nelson, Marlborough and the Chatham Islands to connect, collaborate, transform and improve their quality of life.
“We fund a wide range of cultural, social, environmental and community projects that support inter-generational social change,” says Rātā Foundation’s Leighton Evans, Chief Executive. “One of the best ways to achieve that change is to ensure children and young people are supported to get a great start in life—and we see KiVa playing a key role in that.”
The Canterbury schools involved are part of a Kāhui Ako (or Community of Learning), a group of education and training providers who form around children and young people's learning to help them achieve their potential. Bullying, however, can be a significant barrier to that learning.
“Left unchecked, at its best, bullying affects learning outcomes and wellbeing at school,” says Kieu Pham, Wellington UniVentures’ Programmes Manager—Education. “At its worst, bullying can lead to depression, anxiety, drug and alcohol abuse, and anti-social behaviour in adulthood.”
She says that KiVa’s proactive prevention approach focuses on the power of bystanders to reduce bullying—and that the programme’s evidence-based results appealed both to Rātā Foundation and the 50 plus other Kiwi schools who are implementing the programme.
It’s been a big year for the KiVa team, who have already trained over 200 staff in schools across Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin, and are now preparing to attend the New Zealand School Trustees Association 2021 Conference in April. KiVa is sponsoring one of the keynote speakers at the conference—Meng Foon, the Race Relations Commissioner, who has cited Kiva as an example of the type of proven programme that should be mandated and funded in schools, as opposed to those that are untested.
“We’re really excited by the continued growth of the KiVa programme,” says Kieu. “The more schools we can get onboard, the more chance we have of turning New Zealand’s appalling bullying statistics around.”