The last three years have been an interesting time for education. We have seen a huge piece of work, on a national level, drafted as the ‘Education Conversation’. A conversation that went up and down the country gathering voice from all New Zealanders on the state of our education system and asking for opinions on how to progress forward, both short and long term. With the global pandemic, there has been little traction on an operational level in the last twelve months, however, this month coming, the whole country gets to have their say once again, and much wider than just education, as we head to the polling booths.
Education should not be used as a political ball game, but history indicates that is so often is. I have no doubt that educational policy needs to be revised, refreshed and be forward thinking, but it is wrong to use education as a lever for political gain. The end outcome of political handball is a system that is detrimental to those that have no say, the young people all educators face on a daily basis.
One of New Zealand’s leading neuroscience educators, Nathan Wallis, takes a very clear stance on education. Front load it! Increase the amount and quality of education our very youngest receive. Put resource into early childhood, and in particular the first thousand days of a young person’s life. There are definite benefits to this, even from a secondary school perspective. It does however, mean a long term game plan for education. The question is though, when will we see education stop being used as a political game to actually make use of sound and valid research in order to benefit the young people of today and the future.
If we look ahead, well beyond the now, the challenge for any government is to foresee the need beyond their term. The Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) have undertaken significant research into just this, specifically around teaching and learning for the future of education and skills in 2030. The research is compelling, and the findings are clear. Never before have young people been so empowered and inspired to be leaders. Never before have young people been so globally aware, or planet concerned. Never before have we had the chance to empower our young people and make a significant difference to everyone future.
Given the appropriatesettings, our young people can be amazing. Now is this is a time to embrace them. It is a time to ensure that we hear their voices, and things in place for their development, well beyond 2030. If we want our young people to be future global leaders, future way farers, and people who will make significant contributions to society, now is our time to empower them. Now is the time for our politicians to listen. The government elect
must ensure they protect education for now and the future. If we truly believe in the importance of education, our government will listen to the experts, look beyond the now, and place significant resource into education. This is more than a conversation. We have the power to act.