The Ministry of Education will have just two priorities to drive its work for the next five years according to a Statement of Intent it published last week: (a) to improve education outcomes for Māori learners, Pasifika learners, learners with special education needs and learners from low socio-economic backgrounds, and (b) to maximise the contribution of education to the economy.
Despite each Ministry Statement of Intent professing to outline its operating intentions for the next five years the Ministry releases a new statement every single year. So this year the six priorities from last year, which still had four more years of work to go, were whittled down to two.
While priority one (improving education outcomes for Māori and Pasifika learners, learners with special education needs and learners from low socio-economic backgrounds) sets out targets and strategies for the entire education sector, priority two (contributing to the economy) is focused almost exclusively on tertiary education.
The ministry aims to improve education’s contribution to the economy by helping secondary school students ‘transition’ into skills training through 12,000 free Youth Guarantees places and the recently established trades academies.
It wants to create new level 3 vocational pathways in manufacturing and technology, construction and infrastructure, primary industries, social and community services and service industries.
It wants to continue to reduce the costs of student loans and allowances to government while protecting equity and access. It wants to get a better return for government’s investment in research by making sure more knowledge is transferred from tertiary providers to commercial enterprises.
The ministry will require tertiary institutions to have a stronger focus on ensuring that learners are achieving better results at higher levels. It will also use price and funding to change institutions’ courses to the priority skill and learning areas it identifies.
And it wants to double the value of export education to New Zealand to $5 billion over the next 15 years.
TEU national president Sandra Grey says the statement of intent is an important document that shapes the ministry’s work programme for at least the year to come.
“But sadly it is also a very narrow document that does not pay respect to the many, diverse reasons people get involved in public education as students, teachers, general staff and researchers.”