Education revamp must include attracting teaching talent

Rahul Chopra

Rahul Chopra

Auckland, August 8, 2022

Education lays the foundation for our lives to achieve better direction and purpose and eventuate in being productive members of our community.

Our education system, like most other sectors of our society, is weathering difficult times.

On one side we have only 67% of school-going aged children (between 6 and 16) attending school regularly and on the other side, schools are struggling to attract and retain teachers.

This creates a storm in the Education system, the flow-on effect of which can be seen in other areas now and in the future.

Increasing dropouts

What are the primary reasons for this decline in school attendance figures?

Pressures on household incomes mean priority for many families is food on the table and possibly educational primacies for the children are being pushed back. Also, relationships are put under strain in such situations, having a detrimental impact on the well-being of children and their ability to regularly attend and contribute to the school. This also unfortunately is a mitigating factor in the spurt of crime in New Zealand, precipitated by very young people.

Do schools have enough wrap-around services to assist in helping families in these scenarios? Does the Ministry of Education believe in applying Key Performance Indicators to remedy these issues? After years of mostly closed borders, we are now opening up to the world.

                                           

                                                                       Image from New Zealand’s International Education Strategy

Along with much-desired skills, it will also mean that more children will be enrolled in our schools (14,000 by the Ministry of Education estimates).

With a shallow resource and infrastructure base in place, we are only exacerbating the problem by higher enrolments, with no measures in place to cater to the increased demand.

Incentives to teachers

Much more needs to be done to make teaching an attractive proposition for our young people.

That is the only way we can ensure a steady stream of teachers in our system, rather than solely relying on immigration to plaster this gaping hole.

A good starting point is to pay teachers according to their skill sets. A teacher should have the same incentives as possibly any other professional towards continual excellence in their role.

Pre-Covid, the International Education sector contributed upwards of $5 billion to our economy.

Moving forward, the focus for this sector should be to make our universities more appealing to bright human capital from around the world. Attention should also remain steadfastly on the quality of student intake and our world-class international education sector.

Young people are the most valuable asset. The right type and impact-based investment in education will ensure are invaluable returns for our communities.

Rahul Chopra works in the public sector. He is passionate about education and the effect it can have on shaping inter-generational futures.

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