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Maxim Institute real issues No. 143

Thu, 10 Feb 2005

Maxim Institute

real issues. ============ this week: No. 143, 10 FEBRUARY 2005

Contents: --------- * Tana fronts up education campaign

* Whose failure is the NCEA?

* Immigration drop

* Motherhood a state to value

Tana fronts up education campaign ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Last week Trevor Mallard announced the appointment of Tana Umaga as an education ambassador for New Zealand. He will be paid $120,000 as part of a new $15.9 million education campaign. The education campaign aims to provide parents with information to help them get more involved in their children's education. The campaign's publicity will use television, radio and print media involving Tana Umaga.

Whilst the campaign may be well meaning - it misses the vital point that New Zealand parents already want to be involved with their children's education. The problem is not in parental willingness but in government policy.

Many parents are not able to choose where their child attends school. Parents have virtually no say in how their child is examined, what qualification their child leaves school with, how the school is governed, how the school is funded, what their children are taught and who teaches them, how the school is reviewed and what values are taught at the school. In addition, parents do not have access to understandable data that enables a comparison of their local schools.

Tana Umaga is undoubtedly a great role model. But if the government really wants to encourage parents to be involved it should try spending the $15.9 million on giving parents more opportunities to be involved.

To read an article on the logic of school choice by Martin Hames in the Summer edition of Evidence browse to: > http://www.maxim.org.nz/main_pages/news_page/LogicOfChoice.pdf

[Note: This requires Adobe Acrobat which may be downloaded at: http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html]

Whose failure is the NCEA? ------------------------------------------------------------------------ This week has been a bad week for the NCEA.

A student who had never attended a geography class received a geography scholarship, one of the world's brightest chemistry students missed out on a scholarship and some of New Zealand's top graphics students failed the NCEA altogether.

These are just some of the stories that are emerging about our national qualification system. The failures are not abstract; they are personal and real and have a huge impact on the students involved.

So who is ultimately accountable for the failings of the NCEA? The New Zealand Qualifications Authority, whose vision is for "world-class qualifications" say they trust "the integrity and honesty" of the people who set and check the NCEA exams. The NZQA has "not been let down", according to NZQA group manager Kate Colbert.

In light of increasing evidence of the NCEA failing to deliver, how can parents and students have confidence in this system unless the NZQA takes responsibility for the failings in its examiners and markers? And if the NZQA won't, then the government must.

Immigration drop ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Immigration took a tumble in 2004, according to Statistics New Zealand. Last year, net migration added "only" 15,000 to the population, compared with more than 35,000 in each of the two previous years. Even so, immigration contributed a third of New Zealand's population growth. Part of the reason for this reduction is changing government criteria for entry, which left many potential migrants either stranded or disillusioned.

Concern over the lower figure shows how New Zealand has become accustomed to high levels. During the 1990s, we had a net gain of 151,000 migrants, and the 2002 figure was the highest since the post-war boom. But this followed heavy losses the two previous decades; in fact, since 1970 there has been a total net outflow of 2,000 people.

Immigration is critical to New Zealand, especially given our falling birth rate. As New Zealand's age profile changes, and as we head towards 2041 - when the population is projected to start declining - the issue will become increasingly acute.

Motherhood a state to value ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Debate over the power of the state and its influence over the family is an ancient one. The Prime Minister's state of the nation speech implied that increasing childcare subsidies, and getting more mums into the workforce will achieve more productivity. This has sparked strong reaction. An article by Alexis Stuart in the Christchurch Press says we should learn from history and offer parents freedom and encouragement to choose. To read the article, browse to: http://www.maxim.org.nz/main_pages/news_page/motherhood.html


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