September marks the end of the summer and the start of a new school year. Students across the country are already filling classrooms, meeting their teachers and preparing to learn. In Hawaii, a group of students from grade school through high school are getting an entirely different kind of education – one that will instill in them valuable real-world skills and prepare them for success in the future.
HIKI NŌ, Hawaiian for “can do,” is the nation’s first statewide student news network. Conceived by PBS Hawaii in 2009, HIKI NŌ involves 500 students from more than 70 public, private and chartered schools, representing all the Hawaiian Islands. These students work together with teachers and mentors to conceive, write, report, shoot and edit news and feature stories that are compiled into a half-hour show, also called HIKI NŌ. The program gives a voice to Hawaiian youth, fills in widening gaps in community information and introduces viewers to issues and experiences often overlooked by traditional news outlets. HIKI NŌ is also breaking new ground in other ways. During the first season, an entire episode was presented in Ni`ihau, a traditional dialect of the Hawaiian language. It is believed to be the first news program broadcast in any Hawaiian dialect.
Since HIKI NŌ first aired, the show, now in its third season, has quickly become a staple of PBS Hawaii’s schedule with an audience of more than 4,800 who watch each week.
PBS Hawaii is proud of HIKI NŌ’s success, but the most rewarding outcome of the project is the education it provides to participants. The project gives students from all parts of the state equal access to workforce and 21st century learning skills – digital literacy, critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, and communication – that are essential for success into today’s economy. Participation in HIKI NŌ has given many students the real-world experience of working in a newsroom and has even encouraged some to pursue careers in journalism.
Early on in the project, Kathryn Matayoshi, Hawaii State School Superintendent, said that HIKI NŌ “removes geographic barriers and provides equal access to an innovative learning opportunity to increase understanding of our diverse communities and citizens.”
HIKI NŌ is an example of public broadcasting’s commitment to education, not only through programming but through community engagement, as well. PBS Hawaii provides students and the teachers who oversee the project in their schools with guidance, as well as the necessary equipment, which is available through “lending libraries” that the station has set up in every county in the state. The project has also attracted support from the Hawaii State Department of Education, Hawaii Association of Independent Schools and the Hawaii Charter School Administrative Office. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting provided the initial start up grant of $200,000 to PBS Hawaii for HIKI NŌ.
HIKI NŌ airs on Thursday nights at 7:30 on PBS Hawaii. Past programs can be viewed at www.pbshawaii.org.