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Pilot Learning And Assessment Centres

Pilot Learning And Assessment Centres To Be Established

Two new centres being established in Porirua and Kaitaia this year will provide face-to-face personalised advice and learning support to people about the range of available study options.

The centres will be the first to pilot the government’s new Tertiary Education Learning and Assessment Centres concept. The centres are aimed at people with low-level school qualifications who might not otherwise be considering gaining further education. The Tertiary Education Advisory Commission developed the centres concept and funding for two pilot centres was announced in the 2001 Budget. They are based on successful centres already operating in Britain and Canada.

Steve Maharey said the Far North Rural Education Activities Programme (REAP) in Kaitaia and Whitireia Community Polytechnic in Porirua have been selected to pilot two community-based tertiary education learning and assessment centres.

“The government is committed to increasing tertiary education participation and ensuring it is accessible to everyone. The establishment of learning and assessment centres will provide information, assistance and ongoing support to people entering tertiary study who may have little experience of tertiary study and lack confidence in their ability to achieve at this level.

“The pilot centres situated in Kaitaia and Porirua will provide support and advice to people with low level school qualifications and will complement support services already available in the community.

“Hands on assistance will be available at the centres to support and guide intending and current students in study and careers. The centres will be staffed and equipped with online IT support.

“Proposals to pilot the first two centres were sought from organisations in the Far North, South Auckland, Porirua and the East Coast of the North Island. The Far North REAP and Whitireia Community Polytechnic proposals were selected based on several criteria including proposed services, links to the community, iwi and existing organisations, and benefits to the group the centres are designed to out in touch with the world of tertiary education.

“By increasing the access points into and assistance and support in tertiary study more New Zealanders will be encouraged to gain skills necessary to enter the workforce and to participate fully in community life.

“It is expected that the two pilot centres will be established by the middle of the year. Ongoing evaluation will be carried out by the Ministry of Education to ensure the pilot’s success. It is expected that following these evaluations, further centres will be established across the country”, Steve Maharey said.

More information is available on the Ministry of Education website at www.minedu.govt.nz.

What is the purpose of the centres?

The government is providing funding for the establishment of community-based learning and assessment centres aimed at people with low level school qualifications who are at risk of not achieving in tertiary education.

These centres will provide students with fact-to-face personalised advice about opportunities available to them and learning support to help them improve their achievement in tertiary education.

What selection criteria were used to select the two successful proposals?

The Ministry of Education applied selection criteria to ensure all proposals were given fair and objective consideration. The criteria included:

- proposed services, including range and scope of services offered, estimated numbers of learners the centre could offer services to, non-duplication of existing services available, appropriateness of services to area and potential learners, and utilisation and availability of e-learning technologies.

- experience, skills, knowledge of the applicant to deliver the services;

- links to community, groups, iwi, and existing organisations;

- benefit to Maori and Pacific peoples in services proposed;

- target area and target group.

Where were the target areas?

The Far North region, South Auckland, the East Coast of the North Island and Porirua.

Why were these communities targeted?

The Ministry of Education identified these as areas of low uptake in tertiary education and training, low achievement in tertiary education, and a high proportion of low socio economic decile schools. These factors indicated a strong need to promote tertiary education opportunities, and provide information, assistance and ongoing support to potential learners in these areas to ensure increased tertiary uptake and success.

Who are the target group?

- Adults with low skill levels and qualifications who are at risk of not participating or achieving in tertiary education;

- “Second chance’ learners;

- People who want to increase their employment options;

- People for whom other initiatives have not reached.

What will the centres look like?

Whitireia plan to open a “shop-front’ style centre in the Porirua shopping area. The centre will be equipped with a 10-bay computer suite, on-site support staff and a full range of tertiary study and provider information.

In addition to this they will offer out-reach services to learners from Wellington to Otaki.

The Far North REAP will call their centre He Huarahi Oranga and set it up in the REAP centre in Kaitaia.

The centre will employ a full-time facilitator, and offer a full range of tertiary study and provider information. In addition, they will offer a range of learning technologies including an email and internet-linked computer suite, staffed reference library, audio conferencing facilities and a full range of educational support equipment. Access to study spaces and meeting rooms will also be provided.

Outreach services will feature strongly due to the wide geographic area this centre will service. Online services will also be established and will include a website with information and links to the facilitator, course information and links to related agencies and providers.

Where is the funding for this pilot coming from?

The Government announced funding of $1.75 million over four years for pilot tertiary education learning and assessment centres in the 2001 Budget.

How long will this pilot run for?

For the purposes of this pilot, the centres will run for two years, and be evaluated at the end. If the centres are successful, the pilot may then be extended, or tertiary education learning and assessment centres established elsewhere.

Will the centres duplicate services already offered in the community?

No. The intention of the pilot is to offer a full range of services not currently available in one central location. The Ministry of Education has consulted with other agencies to ensure there is no duplication of services.

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