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Does education shape society?

31 August 2006

Does education shape society?

Is NCEA working?
How do we create a world-class education system?

These are just some of the many questions up for debate as the University of Waikato continues its free public lecture series in September. This year’s series focuses on current issues in education, including the role a university plays in society and whether equity and excellence are both achievable in Mâori education.

“Education is so important to the future of the country,” said Professor Noeline Alcorn, Dean of the School of Education. “It affects every child in the country and every family in the country.”

The University of Waikato’s annual public lecture series invites the community to engage in the type of rigorous intellectual discussion that occurs every day on the University’s campus. On 6 September, the series continues with a debate about qualifications reform and the NCEA, or National Certificate of Educational Achievement. School of Education Associate Professor Terry Locke, and Dr Stuart Middleton of the Manukau Institute of Technology are the invited speakers.

“Educational change affects everybody,” Locke said. “Ultimately, an education system is about what society deems as important knowledge. No one can take this knowledge for granted as it has a huge impact on who we are.”

Over the last 20 years, education in New Zealand has undergone radical changes at virtually every level, including administration, teacher identity, curriculum development and assessment, Locke said.

“Many of these changes have been controversial and have been ideologically driven,” he said. “Most of these changes have generated volumes of critique and have affected all New Zealanders. For this reason, every New Zealander has a stake in debates relating to these changes.”

The free lecture series began on 16 August with the question: “Does New Zealand have good teachers?” On 13 September, high school students will present their vision of what schools of the 21st Century should look like.

The lecture series concludes on 20 September with a discussion of the role a university should play in society. Scheduled speakers include University of Waikato Vice Chancellor Roy Crawford; Katolyst Chief Executive Graham Smith; and Roger Evans, managing director of Stafford Engineering.

All lectures begin at 7pm at the WEL Energy Academy of Performing Arts, Gate 1, Knighton Road, University of Waikato, Hamilton. For more information, contact the Centre for Continuing Education at 07 858 5209, or visit:

Upcoming lecture series topics:

6 Sep: A Quality Qualification? The NCEA Debate

13 Sep: Our Schools of the Future: Secondary Students present their ideas about schools of the future

20 Sep: University Challenge: What is the role of a University in Society?


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