State of Education in New Zealand 2008 Publications
The State of Education series is an annual publication. State of Education in New Zealand: 2008 is the third issue in the series, with most of the data relating to the previous year (2007).
Author(s): Strategy and System Performance, Ministry of Education.
Date Published: December 2008
The State of Education series documents how education is performing across different parts of the education sector, and the impact of education through to the labour market. Performance has been positive, with recent years showing continued improvements.
Time spent in early childhood education (ECE) enhances future learning and contributes to a child’s later development. The number of children attending and benefiting from early childhood education services has increased since the early 1990s, as has the time children spent at these services (see Chapter 1). Quality of service, as measured by the proportion of qualified and registered staff, has been increasing with rapid growth occurring from 2004 (see Chapter 4).
Despite this rising demand for early childhood education services, accessibility does not appear to be a problem. And the recent introduction of 20 Hours ECE has seen the price that families pay for early childhood education services fall considerably (see Chapter 2). The sustainability of early childhood education services continues to improve, in part because of the increased occupancy rates.
Primary schooling builds on the concepts gained in early childhood education and lays the foundation for success in later schooling years. Recently released international studies show that, on average, New Zealand Year 5 students perform at around the international mean (see Chapter 5). By the time they are 15 years old, students will be performing significantly above the international mean (see Chapter 9).
Students who are ‘engaged’ in education, that is, who participate and become involved in their schooling communities, are more likely to reach their educational potential and succeed. Students who disengage, and in particular leave school early, are more likely to face hardship in the labour market as well as being excluded from necessary learning opportunities later in life. Students from socio-economically disadvantaged communities and Māori students (who are over-represented in these disadvantaged communities) have relatively poor rates of student engagement, continuing the trend of previous years (see Chapters 6 and 7).
The knowledge and skills young people gain at secondary school are critical to their successful participation in tertiary education; also, a formal school qualification is a basic prerequisite of many entry-level jobs. International studies show that 15-year-old New Zealand students achieved significantly above the international mean (see Chapter 9). More secondary students left school with qualifications than in previous years, giving the students more chances of continuing on to tertiary education and enabling better labour market opportunities (see Chapter 10).
Tertiary education allows people to develop the knowledge and skills to live in a modern, rapidly changing knowledge-based society. Higher educational attainment is associated with a range of positive outcomes, including better income, employment and health. After substantial increases in the number of people enrolled in tertiary education over the decade, there was a decrease in 2007, largely because of reductions in certificate-level study (see Chapter 12).
Tertiary education also contributes to the expansion of scientific and cultural knowledge. After rapid growth in between 2000 and 2004, the number of international students enrolled in tertiary education providers has declined for three consecutive years. However, it was still about four times higher in 2007 than it was in 1998 (see Chapter 14). Latest qualification data show the number of doctorates awarded was increasing. Research quality in the tertiary sector was assessed in 2003 and 2006. Comparisons show increases in both the production of ‘original and innovative research’, and ‘highly original research’ (see Chapter 15).
While the general education picture for New Zealand continues to be positive, the system continues to underperform for specific groups of learners. Generally, early childhood education services and schools that draw their children and students from communities with the greatest socio-economic disadvantage have the worst rates for qualification attainment, numeracy and literacy, and student engagement. The over-representation of Māori and Pasifika in these socio-economically disadvantaged communities means that these groups of students are particularly at risk.
In recent years, Māori and Pasifika students and students from low socio-economic communities have tended to improve at relatively higher rates than other groups for student engagement, numeracy and literacy, and schooling qualifications. This suggests that disparities are reducing. However, there has been insufficient progress in reducing persistent, long-standing educational disparities.
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