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March 16, 2009 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

What’s the Plan Mr. Key?

A recent survey asked school children across Britain to define what Auschwitz was. Ten per cent were not able to provide an answer because they were unsure of the meaning behind the word. 2% had picked Auschwitz to be a brand of beer, 1% believed Auschwitz to be a sort of religious festivity and 1% was under the impression that Auschwitz was a certain type of bread. Statistics such as the ones given would suggest that British education system is of a questionable standard. What then of our own education system? How does our future generation compare to the British youth?

In April 2007 the New Zealand Qualifications Authority had found that a number of our high school seniors did not meet their chosen subjects’ basic requirements. Certain English students were not able to provide an example of an adjective and Calculus students did not understand how to use a scientific calculator. Moreover, some senior classes are now studying the works of William Shakespeare through outdated film and BBC screen adaptations, rather than by reading through the play. More recently however, it has been put forth to take Shakespeare off the NCEA level three English curriculum all together as some students are finding it impossible to grasp. Standard 90722: ‘Respond critically to Shakespearean drama studied’ could be dropped shortly, believe outraged English teachers across the country.

It’s been over three months since John Key was appointed Prime Minister on the 28 November 2008 and what an exciting time it has been! Among the mess left behind by the Labour party, education found itself on the top of Key’s clean-up list. As a result, National has proposed a new education scheme called Schools Plus. This plan aims at making it compulsory for our children to attend school or another form of educational facility until the age of 18 and to provide them with job opportunities or skills needed for university education. It is here in the revised educational policy that National makes a major mistake. If a child is not willing to attend school, there is no point in him or her being there. Not only does that hinder the learning opportunities of other students but it puts additional pressure on our already underpaid and overworked secondary school teachers. Instead of increasing pay, improving working conditions, education and training, our teachers receive Key’s policy calls for an increase of fines that are issued to parents of truant school children.

With 2010 looming, the newly revised curriculum is about to receive its final touch-ups. One can only hope the Ministry of Education does not agree to “dumb down” the school system any further. For if Key’s plan of achieving a brighter future means lowering New Zealand’s already low educational standards to the point of moronic and creating more overcrowded classrooms, then our education system will head right down the shitter!


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  1. Evans says:

    What are you talking about Sonya. The overly ambitious Schools Plus is DEAD! Sunk costs everywhere.

    There is not clear indication that National is on a better path, with philosophical confusion rife among the Education players in National and ACT.

    I predict that the same old blame games will continue into the indefinite future. Meanwhile the Ministry of Education will continue to try to catch the winds of political approval, as will the Education Review Office.

    Result – chaos!

  2. I completely disagree

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