Civics & Human Rights
Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ) is pleased to see the Ministry of Education make serious steps towards addressing the damaging socio-economic inequities in civic literacy within New Zealand. The recently released, School Leavers' Toolkit is an important resource to guide our secondary school students for the next phase of their lives.
In 2018, TINZ made a submission on the review of New Zealand's National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA). This was part of the national Education Conversation, known as Korero Matauranga. In this submission we drew attention to these inequities. That developed into TINZ’s involvement in the Civics Education Working Group that participated in designing the School Leavers' Toolkit.
Students’ knowledge of civics enhanced
The International Civic and Citizenship Education Study (ICCS) study of 2008 identified a disparity between students from European or Asian ethnic groups and those from Māori or Pasifika backgrounds in terms of civics knowledge. TINZ was concerned about the repercussions for society if demographic or geographic communities were allowed to develop diverging understandings of civics. There is a body of academic research that traces a close connection between income and education inequality, and perceptions of corruption. TINZ felt it was important to target this area with especial attention, to stem the growth of inequality in civics educational outcomes.
So we herald the launch of the toolkit, Practical skills for life. It provides information and resources in six main parts, namely: tertiary education, residential tenancies, finding a job, government, tax, and basic wellbeing.
The Government section includes an explanation of voting, enrolling, how the government works and interacting with government and parliament. Each module includes links to helpful resources.
Teacher resources strengthened
The Ministry has also developed a set of curriculum resources for teachers. These include a teaching and learning guide and an activities booklet. There are also separate resources in Te Reo Māori that align with Te Matauranga o Aotearoa (the essential knowledge, skills, values and attitudes appropriate to Māori-medium schools). The English language resources are developed on a Tiriti basis that recognises the importance of belonging in te Ao Maori (the Māori world view that acknowledges the interconnectedness and interrelationship of all living & non-living things). Important guidance is provided on topics including the Treaty, power systems, our democratic heritage and our role within the Pacific and the World. Controversial issues are introduce and media literacy problems are addressed.
On the whole, the development of the School Leavers Toolkit and the civics and citizenship resources that accompany it should be a good step towards rectifying the problem identified in the 2008 ICCS Study.
The natural next step would be for the Government to fund Ministry of Education’s participation in the next ICCS study, in 2022.
Editor's note: The School Leavers' Toolkit is a success story of the 2018-2020 Open Government Partnership National Action Plan fulfilling Commitment 3.