Friday, March 23, 2018

Education reform in NZ - continued - University sector views

Another flurry of activity through the media as the various NZ tertiary sectors submit views to the new Minister of Education's mandate to reform the NZ education system.

Following on from posts over the last couples of weeks on vocational education and the school qualifications, there is now perspectives from the university sector. These are recorded from the Tertiary Education Union (TEU) convening of a workshop from the NZ university sector with submissions also from unions and students. The Ministers perspectives are found here and the summary of the recommendations arising from the workshop are reported here.

All the above signals the Labour Government's intention to move away from the decades of emphasis on market-let economics - the neo-liberal agenda. In NZ, a good overview with regards to neo-liberalism's effect on education is the book - Children of Rogernomics - a neo-liberal generation leaves school. Aspects of the perspectives collected in this book are also reflected in this survey on 18-24 year olds - worried about the prospects of the digital future on work. In particular, on the precarious world of work with poor prospects for tenure, intensive demands to continually retrain / re-skill / re-invent oneself and the dated career advise the currently receive.

Discussion on the effects of neo-liberalism on education is not new. See this 2006 book mostly on the American context. The world-wide push back on the negative effects wrought by neo-liberalism is a decade old. It has taken time for people to understand what the effects are and research and explore alternatives. In NZ, under an MMP (mixed member proportional) electoral system, the current Labour Party came into government at the end of last year, due to the decision made by 'king maker'. The decision was based on his feeling of the electorate seeking a change towards a more balanced social system.

 Therefore, now important to explore what other governments have been doing with their education systems. Especially ones which encourage collaboration across the sector instead of a competitive market-driven ethos. Interesting times ahead for all NZ educators which is perceived by those at the chalk-face to be under-funded, with teacher shortages in the compulsory school sector and a need to shift curriculum and pedagogy to reflect the needs of the future.

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