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Dr Muriel Newman

Transforming Our Future

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SJ1A nation’s future is determined by the vision of its leadership. That is essentially the message that Taranaki born Stephen Jennings delivered when he returned to New Zealand last month to present a keynote address for the New Zealand Initiative. Stephen, who began his career working for Treasury in the eighties, moved on to pioneer capital markets in post-communist Russia, and now heads Africa’s largest urban development company. He is one of New Zealand’s most successful global entrepreneurs.

Stephen returned to New Zealand in 2009 to deliver the Sir Ron Trotter lecture, Lessons for New Zealand from High Growth Economies. At that time, he warned, “New Zealand is poorly positioned to thrive in this new world. Without change our economic decline of the last 50 years will continue and potentially accelerate. Nevertheless, there are compelling
reasons to believe that New Zealand can and should be a global success story.”

In his latest speech, the Market Path to Prosperity, which is featured as this week’s NZCPR Guest Commentary, he outlines how, at a time when rapid growth in emerging markets is reducing global inequalities, New Zealand continues to fall behind:

“When I gave my Trotter lecture I noted that the New Zealand economy was not performing at all well in the early stages of the era of accelerating global convergence. I concluded that without a change in policy settings and attitudes we would drop further down the global league tables as fast-growing emerging markets leapfrog us. Scarily, despite our strong institutions and considerable fiscal discipline, New Zealand’s economic decline has continued at pace.

“The balance of the evidence suggests two factors that are critically important for prospering in the current era: first, strong global linkages in trade, investment and know how; and secondly a highly skilled and highly trained work force. New Zealand is performing poorly on both of these fronts and, in my opinion the negative trends are set to continue. Our strong institutions and fiscal policies may themselves come under threat.

“What concerns me most is that these factors are reinforcing each other, potentially in a downward spiral. Negligible productivity growth makes it extremely difficult to fund a world-class education system. Weak international linkages reduce our exposure to sophisticated value chains and global know how which reduces the skills and training of our work force. This in turn undermines the demand for top quality education, which further reduces our international competitiveness.”

The failure of our education system and our poor productivity growth were two of the recurrent themes of his talk. Essentially, he believes that lifting our performance in those two crucial areas is critical, if living standards are to rise.

New Zealand’s slide in education has indeed been dramatic. We have gone from ranking 7th in reading, 7th in science and 13th in maths in the Programme for International Student Assessment in 2009, to 13th, 18th and 23rd respectively in 2012. Worse, while New Zealand’s scores declined sharply, the OECD averages remained relatively stable.

It was the same story with the 2012 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, which is held every five years, where New Zealand 9-year-olds finished equal last in maths among peers in developed countries, with almost half not able to add 218 and 191.

In an interview on Television New Zealand’s Q + A, Stephen Jennings outlined how performance pay for teachers is needed to turn the situation around:  “We are too scared in New Zealand to confront the power of teachers and the teachers’ unions. The teachers and the quality of teaching, is at the centre of a quality education system. But you can’t have a situation where 99 percent of teachers go through an appraisal process and are promoted. You can’t have a situation where good performance isn’t properly recognised and developed. The bottom 10 percent of teachers have a huge impact on average educational outcomes. And we have a system which enables the bottom 10 percent of teachers to stay within the system throughout their entire careers, and that is hurting our education outcomes, but it’s particularly hurting our lower income and disadvantaged people.”

It’s also time to recognise that the radical reforms introduced by the Labour Government in 2007, which replaced our traditional standards-based syllabus with a ‘progressive’ curriculum, are also contributing to New Zealand’s educational decline.

Experimental and strongly ideological, progressive education was designed to remove elitism from the education system by replacing knowledge – the traditional focus of education – with skills. Instead of being the ‘fountains of knowledge’, teachers became facilitators of learning. Objective testing and assessments were abandoned, and the control of education was passed on to individual schools and their Boards.

While the new approach has undoubtedly given teachers and schools greater flexibility, an increasing number of children are now lacking the knowledge and skills to read, write, or perform basic numeracy.

It also exposed the curriculum to political capture. When the draft of the new curriculum was released in 2006, the Treaty of Waitangi had been dropped from the ‘principles’ section. But following protests by the Human Rights Commission and iwi, it was reinstated with a supremacists’ spin – the curriculum will “give effect to the partnership that is at the core of our nation’s founding document the Treaty of Waitangi”. This is now interwoven throughout the curriculum.

When Labour introduced the progressive curriculum, only a handful of other countries had adopted it. Some, including the US, had already found it to be a failure, with most states returning  to a standards based approach with its focus on subject discipline, academic rigour, more formal methods of teaching, and a clear, concise and teacher-friendly curriculum.

With international tests and other forms of assessment now showing that New Zealand’s educational achievement is in decline, isn’t it time that we too replaced the ‘progressive’ experiment with a more traditional standards-based approach, with its focus on proficiency in literacy and numeracy, as well as the high expectations of academic success that helped generations of New Zealand children from all walks of life to succeed?

Stephen Jennings also raised concerns about our dismal productivity growth.  “If there is one thing that economists of all political persuasions tend to agree on it is that productivity growth is the key determinant of future prosperity. New Zealand has been a perennial under performer in the global productivity race… and is particularly exposed to the competitive threat from global convergence because of our consistently weak productivity growth.”

Pinpointing exactly why productivity in New Zealand has fallen so sharply is no easy matter.

Productivity is defined by the Productivity Commission as “how well people combine resources to produce goods and services. For countries, it is about creating more from available resources – such as raw materials, labour, skills, capital equipment, land, intellectual property, managerial capability and financial capital. With the right choices, higher production, higher value and higher incomes can be achieved for every hour worked.”

Stephen provided a number of suggestions for lifting productivity, including up-skilling the workforce, increasing our focus on innovation, and boosting our export growth. He pointed out, that businesses with international connections are far more likely than those that are purely domestically focused to innovate in ways that can lead to improvements in productivity.

This is confirmed by research from the Productivity Commission, which shows that as a result of our small domestic market, local competition in many areas is so weak that a business that is only 10 percent as productive as the best in the industry can survive. In comparison, in Denmark that survival threshold is 25 percent.

As a result, Denmark’s productivity is over 60 percent higher than New Zealand’s. And although Danish employees work almost 20 percent fewer hours per person than New Zealand workers, their living standards – measured in terms of per-capita Gross Domestic Product – are almost a third higher than ours. In other words, it is the lack of competition in New Zealand markets that fosters our dismal productivity rates.

But that’s not all. The Government needs to accept some of the responsibility as well – namely for the excessive regulatory burden they have imposed on businesses, from overbearing health and safety regulations, to over-complicated tax laws, to the overly-restrictive Resource Management Act.

Councils too have productivity destroying rules – as highlighted by Owen McShane in his article The Role of Soils in the Roadblocks to Productivity. He had been listening to an interview with a commercial lettuce grower who was producing 10 crops of 10,000 lettuces a year hydroponically. But when the clearly ambitious grower was asked if he had plans to expand his hydroponic farming operation, he explained that his local District Plan made it impossible for him to do so – even though he had the land and the markets.

The problem was that because hydroponic lettuces do not have their roots in soil, his District Plan deemed his operation to be a ‘non-farming activity’ and he was restricted to using only 100 square metres of his 60 acre farmlet for hydroponics – in order to protect ‘prime agricultural land’ and ‘productive soils’. When asked if he planned to apply for a Discretionary Activity to expand his ‘non-farming activity’, he explained that since a resource consent could cost up to $30,000 with no guarantee of success, he had flagged it away.

With such restrictive provisions in local authority plans up and down the country, along with prohibitive regulator costs, it is little wonder that some regions are falling behind. Such planning regulations represent serious barriers to growth, and unless they are removed, people with the capacity to dramatically improve productivity in their communities – and in the process help to lift New Zealand’s living standards – will continue to be blocked from doing so.

Putting regulatory barriers to one side, demand is clearly a crucial element in the productivity equation. And one of the best ways to lift demand for New Zealand goods and services is, of course, to grow international markets through exports.

In this regard, Stephen Jennings believes that improving the performance of Fonterra is crucial. He has observed first hand how woefully it lags international competitors, as a result, he believes, of its monopoly status and cooperative structure. He would also like to see our overseas embassies, which help New Zealanders to establish trade connections, lift their game.

He also warns that while New Zealand has performed better in recent years in terms of GDP growth, since this is largely based on high immigration and increases in the number of hours worked, reform is needed if growth is to be sustainable in the long term.

Stephen Jennings had a number of recommendations for the government. These included, overhauling the education system – to become a top 5 global performer; reviewing the ownership, governance, and marketing of our primary industries – to increase innovation and build world-class performance; and undertaking comprehensive planning reform to unlock regional development and free up the availability of land for housing – since the planning restrictions that have caused the housing crisis are “ridiculous given that less than one percent of New Zealand is built upon”.

He also had some advice for John Key: “In terms of further change, my first and major comment is about leadership. The changes New Zealand needs are fundamental: they require new attitudes; they require the courage to confront deeply entrenched vested interests.”

The time has come for our Prime Minister to decide on his legacy – will it be building prosperity for future generations, by removing the roadblocks to progress and inspiring the nation with incentives for excellence, innovation and achievement; or will he instead focus above all on the next election.

Great politicians have courage and are able to lead a nation by sharing their vision. If John Key is to become an outstanding politician he should heed the advice of Stephen Jennings and look beyond election cycle politics.


How do you rate New Zealand’s education system – good, average, or poor?


*Poll comments are posted below.


*All NZCPR poll results can be seen in the Archive.

Click to view x 120


Teachers seem to be part of the problem Progressive education he’s been a failure. We knew this years ago ( John Dewey etc). John
Some come out unable to read or write, language skills very poor. (EG many cannot pronounce “th” as in “wiff”instead of “with” and many other similarly poor verbal skills — we are so damned concerned about cultural issues and pronunciations but ignore English and practical subjects that would give students a chance in life. Alan
And going the wrong way Disestablish the oversized head office regime and assign more personnel to the coal face, the school Teachers, good ones are the life blood of sound education and direction for our youth. Colin
Its a results business and the results speak for themselves. Warren
I have grandchildren going to school in USA and NZ and my feeling is that NCEA is a very hit and miss method and would suggest that there was more concentration on maths, physics, science and a very good grip on the English language. Elizabeth
Here we have a country whose official language is NOT English. The whole ‘Maori is great’ indoctrination is destroying our education system, culture and country. Monica
It works for those that are determined but fails many who like to cruise. Wayne
We have the odd international visitor stay, and without exception their children’s academic abilility far exceeds our own public school educated kids. Kynan
Nothing wrong with the system, more that the problems lie with who is being educated and their ability to learn, and not having the drive to achieve and go forward , not playing games and learning an inappropriate language instead of english, an international language, the lack of discipline and respect, this is what is holding those people back! Roy
The system must ensure teachers must have the skills to to scccessful impart the knowledge that all those students leaving school require. Any teachers who prove to be able to do that need to be forced out. Bryan
It was basically ruined by the socialists tomorrow’s schools. I think it’s called ‘ dumbing down ‘. Quite sad really. Mike
The teachers are very good at making themselves heard when going for a pay rise, but absolute silence when they are told to teach our young the revised and ever changing history of NZ. It seems they all agree that maori were a peace loving conservationist that welcomed one and all with open arms, looked after their young and elderly better than any other race on earth and lived an idillic lifestyle. Far from the truth of course, but why ruin a good story with the truth. Teachers have a lot to answer for with their left wing agendas, yet they put themselves on a pedistal and crucify anyone that dares to question their motives. Stevo
Kids today have been allowed to spell words using the text shortened version and their spelling is atrocious. The new age Mathematics is confusing to say the least. Wayne
Teachers in the pre and primary areas have to many subjects to perform and neglecting the reading, writing, arithmetic and sport.. No language other than English should be taught, Maori or other languages should be a students choice at secondary school, but not compulsory. Robert
There has been a noticeable decline in reading, spoken and writing skills over the last decade. To give simple examples, many people cannot do a simple calculation without a calculator, Shop assistants need a cash register to calculate change. At one time Newsreaders on BBC and NZBC could be relied on to speak good English grammar and pronunciation. Just one example — pronunciation of the word vulnerable. Now many readers and people being interviewers say VUNerable instead VULnerable. Careless and sets a bad example. Those of us who still bother to read a newspaper now that they are not proofread, find in every edition grammatical errors and spelling errors. They sets a bad example and the rot extends from there into general usage. Chris
It would be nice to be able to read someone’s writing. William
The New Zealand education system is poor in the extreme. I came to NZ from the UK in 1971 to set up the welded electric underblanket industry. I had a two year contract with my employer and I stayed with him for three years. I left the company to join the tertiary education sector because I could not obtain technical staff from local sources. We had to get them from the UK. So I thought I had better get out and train some myself. I talked to the Principal of my local Technical Institute about this problem. He suggested that I join him as his Liaison Officer and spend half my time teaching and the other half working with High Schools, industry, business and commerce telling them about the importance of appropriate business education and training. I joined the Polytechnic and spent the rest of my working days with several different employers working with business enterprises of all sizes, and specialising in business management and business accounting. In 2009 I had to retire because the Minister of Education, Anne Tolley, decided to close down Adult Continuing Education. She claimed that the Government could not afford the cost. I found people with maths problems at all levels. From apprentices who could not accurately calculate how much material to order for a particular job to employers and business owners who had no control over money AT ALL. Reading and writing was also a problem area for many people which led to many problems in running the business. If we are unable to improve education in the core subjects of Maths, English and Science then the future for our country is going to very bad indeed. Ernest
Stephen Jennings is a fool if he thinks (as he appears to) that success is all down to Dollars and Cents. Yes, NZ education system is much too politicized, but mainly in the sense of shoving TOW BS down everyone’s throats. Instigate more skills-based learning (as in trades training) into the system and watch it take off….. Colin
The statistics say it all. The fact that some students graduate from high school with poor literacy and numeracy skills is a complete disgrace. Why doesn’t this alone raise major red flags? Allan
Back in my time of schooling – if you did not pass your Reading, Writing and Arithmetic tests, plus the basic English language knowledge – you were not promoted to the next level/class. Some children were 2 or 3 years in age older, than the rest in class because they had not passed the yearly exams. This was in Primary School which went up to Std 6 – You did not get to start Secondary school either unless you were up to date with pass results. The day/year our country split the junior school into primary and intermediate, and open-plan classrooms – was the start of our education system failing our most vulnerable children. We don’t have to go back to the dark-ages,but something has to be done NOW. … Also, over the years [with my children and grandchildren] there have been several teachers who should never have been allowed to carry on teaching – Headmasters giving them plus marks should be downsized too. Elayne
The dumbing of a nation!!! Teachers are being forced to waste too much valuable teaching time on individual student assessments. NCEA is a failure. Let teachers get back to actually doing their jobs of teaching our kids … and lets also get rid of all the Marxist / commy lefties who have hijacked our education system. Steve
Poor is not the right word, Terrible. Barry
I don’t believe the asssessment system gives accurate results. It conceals the ineffective teaching by semi-educated teachers. My daughter dropped out of school in disgust when she was helping her maths teacher because of that teachers ignorance of the subject. Auntie Podes
Stephen Jennings is so right John Key and the politicians could do so much to lift New Zealand position, but they are too focused on the next election. If only they had the brains to realise that the hard decisions would in the long run get them more good will, than acting as they do. John
I don’t agree with “dumbing down” our educations system. What’s wrong with achieving and not just getting a mark for “trying”? Another thing is the number of children leaving school with poor English skills. That is evident even in the written word in newspapers and advertising, especially the proliferation of the apostrophe! Basic arithmetic also leaves a lot to be desired. Sheila
Going steadily backwards. William
We need to get back to teaching on a standards based approach. The education system has been dumbed down (or browned down) to suit the increased numbers of Maori and Polynesians in our schools. We can do better and NZ young people need to have a quantum change in their attitudes when the get into the labour market. Better parenting would also make a difference. Kerry
Too much Union control. Clark
Because we undervalue NZ born, English speaking teachers AND we include disruptive, dangerous an English impaired students simply to impede the learning of those who deserve the chance to learn. Mark
Since Key supported Sue Bradfords bill to stop smacking kids, discipline in schools has disappeared, teachers are sworn at and have lost control. NCEA replaced a school certain that worked, but was un-pc as some kids didn’t make it (boo boo) and of course we couldn’t do without the lies and indoctrination that is brainwashed into young children about NZ history and the rewritten untrue Treaty of Waitangi. There are excellent teachers out there who are frustrated with “the system” decided from Wellington overpaid bureaucrats, and a govt who will not listen to those at the coal face. Carolyn
Less unionism would help! Jim
Our country was built and continues to be built up by engineers.We are short of hundreds of engineers. Where are our future engineers, builders and tradesmen being educated? It easier to pass NCEA by picking Arts, Crafts, Dance, butterfly collecting… Ross
Pretty poor I’d say. I know people whose children are not developing well in this dumbed down school system. I was living near by a school for a while and on a regular basis I saw a Maori guy (teacher??) teaching kids (age group 8-10 years old) Maori stick fighting and all the while they were told how to poke their tongues out and show fierce facial expressions too. What has this stuff to do in a school. I cannot see any benefit for the development of a child in this. I too know somebody who is a teacher and has made negative comments about the massive influx of these so called TOW principles in the curriculum. I was asked to keep what I heard from him confidential. There is obviously a widespread fear among teachers of being disciplined and even suspended if they do not toe the line. Say hello to facism in this country!!! Michael
The teaching system is flawed and under paid by the present government, night classes been scrapped etc,etc too much TV, cellphone and Email disruption. Theodorus
I think the quality of education varies from school to school but as a soundie the majority of the schools I have worked with have been fairly impressive. Paul
Just average to poor. The teachers of today are brainwashing our children and have been doing so for many years. They are rewriting history so that the children of today are hearing what the lefties want them to hear. When you pay a good teacher the same as a useless one and it is almost impossible to get rid of the useless one what else can you expect. A good teacher can encourage a child to do his very best and become a good citizen. On the other hand a hopeless can wreck many children’s lives and destroy their hopes and dreams Go partnership schools. Colin
Many sacred educational cows need their sacred ass’s kicked. Willy
Our education system suffers on many levels. At the bottom an overpaid babysitting service that commences its ERO generated pro UN Communist agenda designed to manufacture subservient plebs A junior school that indulges in psychobabble and ethnic rubbish whilst students remain deficient in basic reading writing grammar, English language and maths. A senior curriculum dominated by arty academics that singularly fails to serve the student and potential income earner, an emphasis on tertiary that has no greater goal than distorting the atrocious unemployment statistics and turning out educated failures. suited to the NWO requirement for consumable zombies. All this from a body of teachers most of which have never held a real job other than the low criteria govt paid teaching gig. The bulk of todays students think life is a career in sport, income is what is given by a corporate or a govt handout, nutrition and health is a takeaway, accomplishment is a good attendance card with 5 stars. A past generation with 11plus and matriculation had more commonsense usable education than this crop of diploma dupes with vastly over valued student loans. Only wise parental guidance can alleviate a few from this deluge of agenda driven failure. Richard
It’s been dumbed down for years now. Laurie
The N.Z. education system is geared to INDOCTRINATION not EDUCATION. As an example, our history has been re-written & taught to appease the P.C. brigade, particularly in regards the Treaty of Waitangi, & Maori history. Real science is no longer taught, only theoretical science, as displayed on computer models. As for mathematics, why bother, when the children are encouraged to have calculators at school.. A.G.R.
Socialist dogma has killed our education system. Clean out the education department of all the trendy lefties and bring the teachers unions into line. Ronmac
Obviously it is going downhill, therefore it is performing poorly. Whilst there are some positive things about the NCEA system, NZ should not have followed the failure of such a system in other countries. I thought our leaders were intelligent and logical but it seems that they fall far short of my and many others’ expectations. Why instigate something that was already a proven failure? Homer Simpson has more intelligence. Kevin
The results say it all – grammer, spelling, basic arithmatic and general knowledge about the world and its cultures are all abysmal. Brian
The cariculum is complex and sometimes difficult to follow, teacher instruction is inadaquate and at tat times inadequately presented. Ian
Whole system seems based on a race to the bottom. A lowest common denominator scheme to not offend dummies. Rodney
Move the education framework back before the Lange era of the 1980’s. David
This government needs to dissolve the teachers union and pay good money to good teachers and get shot of the poor teachers and withdraw the Maori influence. Ken
The general knowledge and spelling ability of the children leaving school is atrocious. Insufficient discipline. Pierre
New Zealand has been going backward for years in education. There’s always too much “meddling” with the system and too much ” fine tuning”. The system never to seems to go ahead much. John
Mainly due to the misinformation on the history concerning the Treaty. David
And falling. Abolish internal assessments and go back to external only assessment. Too many students are given unearned pass marks; a fail mark reflects detrimentally on both the teacher and the school. Albie
And racist. Bruce
Teaching standards have been poor for many many years and will not change if the teachers union continue to dominate the education system. Bernard
I believe I had a much better education in the 40s and 50s than children receive today. To be able to spell and do basic arithmetic should be an essential prerequisite before commencing high school. Dennis
However would like to see less union involvement in education. Karl
I am a retired teacher and I fear for the future of our children if we continue with the present system. Robbie
It is not fitting students for future employment. Harvey
Too much emphasis on Maori related subjects and language, stick to the basics. Reading, writing and arithmetic. Ian
The standard of teaching is appalling. They are using our children as guineapigs and it is children’s future that they are playing with. Elizabeth
I still remember the frustrations of my years as a pupil and nowadays, for heaven’s sake, it has got worse. Rob
There is a need to prioritize the basic, maths, English grammar, reading, writing and science. Far more important than Te Reo. Michelle
My wife is a teacher. My daughter -in-law is a teacher. I can assure the reader our teachers and education system is hugely agenda driven especially APARTHEID in NZ where Maori hold a privileged position. Geoff
Too many are illiterate and there is too much emphasis on everything Maori. We need to grow up and try to enter a modern world. Peter
So long as the emphasis is on culture in our schools, this present system will remain. The Education system has been downgraded to suit the lowest denominator; the opposite should be the aim. Teacher Unionism is too strong an enemy for our present government to counter. Our only hope is Charter schools until the population of this country finally realises the chaos that is Education in this country. Brian
We need longer school hours. More homework to involve parents. John
Poor teaching. Irrelevant mushy subjects taught. Mary
Once teachers dumped the concept of teaching as a vocation then the system has continuously degenerated – however I see no way in which this can be reversed without a major upheaval Rob
I myself think the education system is OK. There is just too many people sucking the apple in the education system. Robert
As I see it the system is not producing the right people for industry and commerce. Graeme
They should be teaching children how to learn – not what to learn. George
It was excellent but it has been hijacked by assessment and technology until there is no room for teaching and kids are not allowed to be kids but must be regurgitation machines. Fortunately there are a few principals who have not bought into the system – we need far more of them. Alan
Since the removal of school certificate and Uni entrance NZ education has declined. Andrew
Pay teachers more. Measure their performance like any other job. Change our education system from one that mandates mediocrity to one that rewards and encourages achievement. Frank
Private schools good, state not so good to poor. Robert
It seems no matter the attributes of change in the education sector, nothing seems to satisfy the unions. Afterall 1 1 =2, no matter how ones messes with it it is still 2 Sam
….has been diluted into a brain washing waste of time by the “iwi’ elites….and the continual $$$ grabbing by the Waitangi Tribunal… Chris
In the words of the porter report New Zealand educational system is run as a social service not a place of excellence. Its all about teachers not the children. Morrie
Maths is badly taught, kids cannot add, subtract or multiply. George
As soon as children were forced to sit in groups facing each other, some with their backs to the teacher, I knew their education had a vastly different aim. The situation will not change until return to facing the teacher “in silence” is the norm. George
Needs a lot of work. Andrew
Look around you! Andy
Only average as system is dominated politically by left thinking teacher unions – who have their own interests at heart rather than than that of the pupils they are paid to teach – even accepting that in many instances they we not generously paid. Hylton
Unfortunately the education system has been dumbed down as to not allow any child to fail to the detriment of all our children. Wendy
Our education system has been all down hill since the introduction of tomorrows schools and now we have the indoctrination of the treaty and of Moari which has no relevance to a good education Russell
Teach kids life skills and get back to basics. Murray
Too easy for incompetent students to pass subjects they would once have failed. Lesley
What I don’t know about our education system would fill many books, but I believe that if it is anything like the lies and deceit that is being taught about our history, it is a downright disgrace! Kevan
The stranglehold of the teachers’ union needs to be broken. Teachers should be encouraged by promotion on merit rather than length of service. Also the emphasis on Maori (savage) culture should be removed and replaced with subjects more relevant to life in a modern world. Alan
While this most likely began earlier Merv Wellington (late 1960s) gave away the the Government was actively lowering the standard of education in New Zealand. Ian
I shudder at the methods that are used in schools to teach my grandchildren. It is fortunate that their parents and us, their grand parents, have recognised this and have stepped in and placed thing on track in all areas of learning in the kids education. It is disturbing that the maoris have weaseled their way into the shools and that so much Treaty and maori language rubbish is becoming compulsory. I asked one of my grand-daughters to count in maori for me and her reply was “uno dos tres cuatro” with a grin on her face. I thought to myself, now there is a perceptive child that understands how useful the maori language is !!!!! The education system needs to change before it destroys our children. Neil
You could have added ‘very poor’. Tim
Like all countries, there are some very, very good teachers. What is the biggest error in New Zealand schools is the Maori indoctrination. Brain washing the little minds should be removed as soon as possible. Shame on anybody promoting this mindless brainwashing, especially when many facts are being distorted. If it was not for the very, very good teachers I would have voted an extremely poor education system. However, they do not deserve that. Folkert
We have some great teachers but their numbers are dwarfed by decades of protecting the lazy and incompetent. Ian
They haven’t the authority to teach any longer. Colin
It could be much better. Some young adults cannot add, subtract, spell. Their grammar poor. This desperately needs to be addressed. Teachers do not have the time to work with children who are having problems. Kerin
NCEA is a disaster. It does not encourage excellence. Literacy and numeracy standards are poor. Students look for the easiest way to gain the minimum number of credits to graduate and then stop trying. Mark
Schools need to teach the basic’s not go on field trips and have teacher only days. Michael
A system brimming with racist brainwashing. John
Seems to me that generally it has been dumped down for the lowest common denominator. Maddi
I have trained several thousand people in various aspects of management. Part of such training courses is the setting and marking of exams. The standard of literacy has declined, grammar and spelling are poor. Management Reports must be accurate and technically correct. The best are excellent but those that fail are woeful. e.g. I have just marked an exam, taken by Co Directors on Risk, Corporate Governance and Strategic Planning. Over half failed. Papers were riddled with spelling errors and grammatical mistakes. Punctuation very poor. Oh dear! The participants were all about 40, so not youngsters. What are they teaching their children? Also general knowledge is very poor generally. Reading ability has slipped since the seventies. No wonder us older people are left wondering what went wrong. The NZ Herald is riddled with all the above problems. I had a NZ Herald delivered free for a while and when a Rep called to see how I had got on I commented on the poor standard of English and he laughed it off. Many Kiwis are also sloppy speakers which doesn’t help understanding! Many migrants have better English than the natives. Some migrants have poor verbal English and no written skills. Why do we let them in? Overall the standard of teachers has declined, many dress like refugees and political correctness rules the day. The good ones often leave or are left complaining about the mess created by the Ministry of Education in Wellington. Current Government have failed the taxpayer. David
An education system is as good as its formal assessment mechanisms are credible. Upholding a strong input from external examinations in Years 11-13 is critically important. Such exams also act as reliable indicators of the quality of teaching and learning when used as diagnostic tools. NZ has all these in place; it is a matter of making effective use of them. Barend
In many cases the underlying subtle ongoing agenda seems to be narrow personally based instead of encouraging and driving broad based ‘worldly’ knowledge. Stuart
It is ridiculous that the teacher unions have so much power in New Zealand and that governments are afraid to confront them. Children’s lives have been compromised because of the gutlessness of politicians. Leo
Schools could do much better in NZ if good teachers were rewarded and poor teachers encouraged to move on. Stephanie
We need to revamp education funding so that private education can flourish – just like it does in Sweden. The funding should follow the child. Then we would see state schools improve their perfromance and all children would benefit. Simon
So many good teachers leave the system because their good work is not recognised. This needs to change to raise the quality of education. William
The stranglehold of the unions on education drives out good teachers. Until the government breaks the unions, education in New Zealand is stuffed. Andy