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Maharey Speech - Promise of a new day

Promise of a new day

Comments at the launch of the Tertiary Education Commission. Soundings Theatre, Te Papa, Wellington.

Whakataka te hau ki te uru whakataka te hau ki te tonga kia mäkinakina ki uta kia mätaratara ki tai e hi ake ana te atakura he tio, he huka he hou hu Tihei Mauriora!

Cease the winds from the west Cease the winds from the south Let a pervasive calm flow upon the shore a red-tipped dawn a sharpened air a touch of frost the promise of a new day.

The New Zealand tertiary education sector

There are many signs of growth and vitality in the tertiary sector. New Zealanders are participating in tertiary education in record numbers, they are pursuing more diverse learning pathways than ever before.

In the last five years alone, we have seen a considerable increase in student numbers in tertiary education. In 2002, over 87,000 students entered tertiary education for the first time; in all we had almost 320,000 learners formally enrolled in tertiary study.

Over the last five years the number of Maori students in tertiary education has increased from 33,000 in 1997 to over 64,000 in 2002. The number of learners attending wananga now total more than 27,000.

We have more New Zealanders involved in workplace training than ever before – over 83,000 learners and 22,000 employers involved in structured workplace training. At the same time, there are more than 300,000 enrolments in adult and community education programmes in a host of areas.

Building on the foundations

These are very encouraging statistics but it must be said there is room for a far more strategic approach. Numbers alone will not deliver the Knowledge Society New Zealand needs to compete successfully in the 21st century.

It’s time to connect with our future and to realise the promise of a new day. That is what this Government’s Tertiary Education Strategy is all about – the promise of a new day for tertiary learners and learning in this country.

The tertiary strategy itself has been developed after widespread consultation with stakeholders throughout the sector. The strategy focuses on six key goals.

We’re going to build a more strategic and more capable tertiary education system, aligned to national goals. We’re going to ensure the system we create contributes decisively to Maori development aspirations. We’re going to ensure all New Zealanders have the foundation skills they need to participate in our new knowledge society. We’re going to place stronger emphasis on higher level creative, specialist and technical skills. We’re going to do more to ensure success for Pasifika learners and communities. Finally, we are going to boost research and knowledge creation to ensure that research and innovation are key drivers of our economy.

Each of these goals is underpinned by specific targets that will be monitored regularly. We have set ourselves ambitious goals and for the sake of our country, we must hold ourselves and our tertiary system accountable for achieving them.

What’s at stake is the promise of a new day for future generations, when all New Zealanders have the skills to participate in a vibrant and distinctively Kiwi knowledge society.

We already have some of the key building blocks in place. These include Modern Apprenticeships, Gateway, Centres of Excellence, as well as the foundation work for the new steering and funding frameworks.

What does the future hold?

By 2007, we will be well on the way to creating a distinctively New Zealand Knowledge Society, confident in our culture and values, highly competitive in the fields in which we choose to compete.

One of the most notable features of this society will be the absolute premium placed on tertiary learning and research.

Therefore, as a society, we’ll guarantee that no young person will leave school without going on to some form of tertiary education and training.

We’ll make sure that all learners will be equipped with the foundation skills to participate in the workforce.

We’ll have more than 7,000 young New Zealanders doing Modern Apprenticeships so that we are harnessing the talent of a new generation at work.

We will have record numbers of New Zealanders in industry training. More than a quarter of a million New Zealanders will be participating in industry training, treble the current number.

In this society, learning will be seen as a lifelong activity, not a rite of passage from teenage years to adulthood. There will be diverse opportunities to go on acquiring new skills and knowledge for people from all walks of life.

We will have a tertiary sector which connects with and contributes strongly to iwi, whänau and hapu development.

We will have many quality tertiary programmes that recognise Te Ao Mäori, help revitalise Te Reo Mäori and offer exciting options for Kaupapa Maori education.

Maori will be better represented in postgraduate research and will be playing a more prominent role in the management of our tertiary institutions.

Wananga will continue to flourish and increase access to tertiary study for Mäori learners.

Our whole tertiary system will be working much more collaboratively. All stakeholders will be working as partners to build a robust system that contributes directly to national, economic and social goals.

For example, there will be much stronger links between tertiary education and research, and the wider world of business and industry.

There will be increased dialogue and collaboration through many new forums and partnerships.

Our resources will be concentrated where they are most effective and there will be less duplication of effort across the sector.

By 2007, we will be funding research in New Zealand on the basis of excellence and strategic relevance.

Our system will be delivering better outcomes for Pacific learners and Pacific staff will be better represented at all levels of decision-making. We will have made substantial progress in achieving the goals set out in the Pasifika education plan.

Our ITOs will be playing a leading role in addressing the country’s skill needs and increasing the country’s productive capacity.

Our adult and community education sector will be revitalised and fully integrated with the broader tertiary education sector, offering community-based avenues for growth and skills development throughout the country.

The vital role of tertiary education to the nation’s future

Any one of these goals would be a significant achievement in itself. But taken together, these changes have the potential to transform our economy and our society on an unprecedented scale.

That is why I am so excited by the promise inherent in these reforms.

Together we will have created a sector capable of making a huge difference to New Zealand society - creating and disseminating knowledge in ways that will take the whole country forward.

There will be a clear focus on strategic outcomes but we will also have a sector which values education for its own sake. Our tertiary system of the future will recognise how profoundly learning enhances our vision and shapes the kind of country we will become. We shall look to the academic community to go on making its vital contribution as critic and conscience of society.

Our road map for change is the Tertiary Education Strategy. The Tertiary Education Commission, which is charged with overseeing the implementation of the Strategy, is critical to the emergence of this new tertiary landscape.

That is why today is so significant. We are not just launching a new organisation.

We are witnessing the beginning of a new era for tertiary education in this country.

Let us be ambitious for this organisation. It has a very challenging job and will need the support of all those within the sector. I urge all stakeholders to take an active role in working with the Commission to bring the Strategy to fruition.

Ultimately the promise of this exciting new day is in your hands.

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