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The Schools Competition - NZ’s Biggest Challenge


Information and entry forms for a schools competition about New Zealand’s biggest challenge should have arrived in all secondary and composite schools in time for the beginning of term four.

Armstrong Jones, a leading financial services company, is supporting a $42,000 prize package for the competition being run by the Super 2000 Taskforce, which has been set up to achieve public and political consensus on a framework for long-term retirement income policy.

Schools have until 1 November to register for the competition with assignments required by the Taskforce by Monday 3 July 2000.

Taskforce chair Angela Foulkes says it’s no coincidence the schools competition has been designed to be New Zealand’s biggest ever.

“Our aging population is New Zealand’s biggest challenge – particularly for the generation still at school,” she says. “Right now, there are 17 people of working age for every three people aged 65 plus. When today’s students are in their 60s, the numbers will be just seven for every three.”

It’s the long-term impact of this change that the Taskforce describes as New Zealand’s biggest challenge.

“We want the competition to be of the same scale, to encourage secondary school students to play a major role in addressing the issue,” says Foulkes. “We’re wanting them to advise us and the Government on how to respond to an aging population – because they’re the group of New Zealanders for whom it’s most important we do so.”

The NZCTU chief says the winning school stands to gain $8,000 and the winning students $6,000. The runner up school will win $6,000, with $4,000 for its team of students. There are further prizes based on the Ministry of Education’s decile system. “Our prize structure will probably be controversial in some quarters but we wanted to attract students from all communities to the competition just as the Taskforce needs to attract all communities to build a national consensus.” Prize money is being provided by financial services company Armstrong Jones.

“We are very grateful to Armstrong Jones for its sponsorship of the competition, and to the Ministry of Education and Wellington College of Education, which helped us ensure the competition is in line with normal Year 12 and 13 programmes,” acknowledges Foulkes.

The competition assignment has been designed to contribute to some of the objectives at level 7 and 8 of the statistics strand of Mathematics in the New Zealand Curriculum and University Entrance Bursary prescriptions for geography and economics.

Foulkes says an innovative feature of the competition is its emphasis on teamwork. “We’re looking for students in Years 12 and 13 to form teams of at least three members, covering the subjects of statistics, geography and economics. Students with other particular interests may also be needed for specific aspects of the assignment – maybe a student with strong written communication and design skills. They’ll write a contract which outlines how they’ll go about the assignment – and how they’ll share any prizes.”

The Taskforce’s idea is for the competition to be multi-disciplinary, with geography students analysing demographic information, economics students considering the fiscal implications and statistics students finding out what the community knows, thinks and wants.

“You simply can’t do this assignment without strongly involving the school community, at all levels” Foulkes says. “All proposals must be affordable, but they must also have community support or else they won’t last politically. Like the Taskforce, students have to get the economics right, but they have to get the politics right too.”

Foulkes says this is why the statistical surveying component of the competition is so important. “There needs to be at least one comprehensive survey of the school community but I expect most teams will probably find they need to go back a second time with a more detailed proposal. They may find they have to build support for it – and then gather data to prove to us their proposal actually does have the community’s support.”

It’s all been designed to match students’ work to that of the Taskforce.

“As a country, we have to reach agreement on this critical issue. This competition, we hope, will be an important part of that process.”

Schools have until 1 November 1999 to register for the competition. Completed assignments need to be at the Taskforce by Monday 3 July 2000. Winners will be announced in October 2000.

For further information on the competition, the Super 2000 Taskforce can be contacted on 0508 2000 SUPER, or on the Internet at


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