By Clare Curran
Our young people will have to work within a vastly different landscape than previous generations.
They will also inherit what we leave them and, with that in mind, I believe that without changes to our education system and to our social priorities we are at risk of our kids being unable to compete in the new global environment.
I have spent quite a bit of time lately thinking about the form education needs to take to prepare our children for the changing world after they leave school.
In almost every industry sector, technological competence will not just be desirable but essential.
During the Government’s short lived attempt to increase class sizes in our schools I met with a number of local principals and teachers. Of particular concern was the loss of staff and resources to provide the subjects of woodwork, metalwork, home economics and computing, so I congratulate all those who stood up for what they believe in and showed that people can change Government policy when they work together.
The Government, in its ‘wisdom’ backed down. Why it ever thought doing away with tech teachers was a good idea is beyond me.
This week I took part in NetHui 2012. It brought together more than 600 people (both professionals and others) who are passionate about technology and what it can do for this country.
Interestingly many of the sessions focused on education - from accessible technology and digital literacy through to sustainable practices in schools. There is an increasing awareness and growing push towards ensuring our kids are prepared for the digital world they will inherit.
But there are some obstacles. Pupils at our lower-decile schools may miss out by not being able to afford access to technology at school or at home.
They, as much as anyone, need that if they are to join other highly-skilled workers of the future. We can’t let it happen.
As part of a Parliamentary Inquiry into 21st Century Learning Environments and Digital Literacy, I am pushing for a commitment from the Government to implement some real changes to our education system so those kids get the schooling they need.
Children have also been on the receiving end of another of the Government’s bad decisions recently – the closing down of TVNZ7. Just as technology teachers have an important role in educating our kids, so too does a good public broadcaster.
TVNZ7 screened New Zealand content, educated and informed us, and allowed us - as Kiwis - to have our voices heard. In this constantly evolving digital environment, we need to have access to content that does all those things.
Unfortunately, despite more than 36,000 New Zealanders signing a petition to try and keep TVNZ7 (among them three generations of one family including a young boy who was extremely disappointed to be losing his favourite channel), the government wasn’t listening.
The world our kids are entering into is very different from previous generations. We all need to work together to make our legacy and our children’s future something we can take pride in.
Clare Curran is Labour MP for Dunedin South and Broadcasting, Communications and IT Spokesperson