The State of Indigenous Education in New Zealand

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Education is an essential part of any society, and New Zealand is no exception. Over the years, strides have been made to provide a better education for the country’s indigenous peoples, the Māori, who make up close to 15% of the population. Despite this, there is still much room for improvement when it comes to the quality of Māori education in New Zealand.

Māori Education Outcomes

Studies have consistently shown that Māori students are performing below their non-Māori peers. In 2019, Māori students performed significantly worse in NCEA Level One Maths than non-Māori students, with only 63% of Māori students achieving the necessary standards compared to 81% of non-Māori students. This gap is further widened in the later stages of school, with only 39% of Māori students achieving University Entrance qualifications in 2019 compared to 73% of non-Māori students – a massive 34% gap.

It is also noted that there is an overall gap between Māori and non-Māori achievement in literacy, numeracy and science. The differences in outcomes are especially pronounced when it comes to those with chronic educational underachievement – those who have been consistently low achieving for three or more years. In 2019, the gap between Māori and non-Māori students in this category was almost 15%.

Cultural Disconnect

Studies have suggested that one of the key reasons for the gap in Māori educational outcomes is the lack of cultural connection in the classroom. Reports note that many teachers are not adequately trained in teaching Māori students, and the traditional curriculum is often not relevant to them. This, coupled with the fact that Māori students are often unfairly disciplined, creates a disconnect that can negatively impact their educational outcomes.

Furthermore, there is an apparent lack of Māori teachers in the school system. In 2019, only 8% of teachers identified as Māori, and only 5.4% of principals were Māori. This means that Māori students are significantly less likely to have a teacher who understands their culture and background. This lack of cultural continuity can have serious implications for the educational outcomes of these students.

Steps to Improve Indigenous Education

In order to tackle the issues plaguing Māori education, the New Zealand government has implemented a number of initiatives. These include:

  • The Māori Education Plan: This plan was designed to improve Māori education outcomes by providing funding for Māori-led initiatives, such as language revitalisation programs, teacher support, and other support services.
  • The Kura Kaupapa Māori: This is a type of school that focuses on the immersion of Māori language and culture in the school environment.

In addition to these initiatives, the government is looking to further improve the quality of Māori education by increasing funding for Kura Kaupapa Māori and providing more opportunities for Māori students to complete their education. Most importantly, the government is looking to improve the quality of teacher training to better equip them with the skills necessary to teach Māori students. Finally, the government is looking to address the underlying cultural disconnect by focusing on building relationships and mutual understanding between Māori and non-Māori students.

The government is also encouraging Māori communities to become more involved in their children’s education by partnering with local schools and teachers, and providing resources and support where needed. In addition, the government is also working to create more opportunities for Māori students to attend university and tertiary study.

Overall, while there is still much to be done to improve the state of indigenous education in New Zealand, there are a number of initiatives in place that are helping to improve the quality of Māori education. By focusing on building cultural connections, increasing funding, and better equipping teachers, New Zealand is on the right track to providing quality education for all.

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