The additional challenges around learning during the Covid-19 lockdown have highlighted many issues, including a digital divide among students and concerns over student wellbeing. So, a pre-election Facebook survey is seeking people’s opinions about those issues.
COMET Auckland, an education charity, has started a six-week Facebook campaign called Te Wero 2020. It wants people to have their say before the September 2020 Parliamentary election.
Their Facebook page will have a new topic each week and feedback will be sought.
Examples are likely to include youth prosperity and wellbeing, Te Reo, retraining and learning about skills transfer (for people who have lost their jobs; for example, in the tourism and hospitality industries), digital equity, teacher training and getting young people into their first job.
Chief Executive, Susan Warren, says the campaign gives voters a chance to say what they think needs to change in education.
“This election is particularly important due to the impact of Covid-19.
Our country is facing a whole raft of issues that have more intensity than before.
“It’s crucial that voters have an opportunity to think about the issues and ask the hard questions.”
Susan says lockdown shone a spotlight on education, especially as parents had to help their children with lessons at home.
She hopes everyone, especially parents, has greater respect for the work teachers do.
“I hope we remember that lesson.”
COMET is an Auckland council-controlled organisation that addresses areas of greatest educational need in Aotearoa from early childhood to life-long learning.
During the months before each Parliamentary election, COMET holds public meetings but this was not possible because of the lockdown.
COMET Auckland, which stands for Community Education Auckland Trust, leads six initiatives: Youth Employability, Talking Matters, SouthSci, Education Māori, Language Strategy and Data and Evidence. Its mission is to drive system change to make education and skills more effective and equitable.
“Lockdown has highlighted the digital divide among students, with some having home internet access and devices they can use for study while others have nothing,” says Susan.
A student’s success should not be predictable based on their postcode.”
She believes the Government has been doing “some really interesting things” in education, including trade training, apprenticeships, more support for digital learning as well as recognition for adults seeking retraining opportunities.
“You have got to take your hat off to them. Some governments might not have done it.”
Te Wero 2020 wants to hear from students, parents, employers, iwi, educators across all levels as well as decision-makers in local and central government. While COMET is Auckland-based, people from around New Zealand are welcome to take part.
One challenge especially pertinent to Auckland is the size of its schools, largely because of infill housing and little land available for new schools.
Susan says Auckland has many primary schools with rolls of more than 500 and high schools with 3000 students.
As part of Te Wero 2020, the main political parties will be sent a set of questions based on opinions from voters, information from industry experts and findings from the COMET Auckland team.
The questions and party responses will be published on COMET’s website.
“We will let you know what they say. Then we all can make an informed decision when it comes time to vote.”
And does she expect politicians to listen?
“I do think the election this year is a teachable moment. They are probably listening more this year because of Covid.
“They know we can’t go back to the old normal. Everyone is more open to a new normal now there is the opportunity to create something better.”
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To have your say on education and skills issues post-COVID, visit:
COMET’s website is cometauckland.org.nz