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Food for thought...or maybe not?

Today I was reading, Investing In Our Nation’s Kids it starts with how New Zealand is often referred to as 'Godzone’ or the 'land of plenty'.

And yet as many as 25 percent of New Zealand’s children – about 270,000 – currently live in poverty. That’s one in every four children.

It goes on to say for those children, going hungry and living in less than acceptable situations - directly effects their education. It effects whether or not they can afford school outings, affects their concentration at school, their self esteem and overall ability to learn and succeed. There is also clear research to show causal links between cognitive ability and nutrition.

Throughout 2013, several have campaigned across New Zealand to help reduce poverty with initiatives like the Food in schools programme and this year in the Northland, Julie Timmins (founder member and current associate of the Child Poverty Action Group) spoke to a group of e-leaders about the issues concerning child poverty in NZ.


So, how does this issue effect us as educators?

We talk about needing to acknowledge the needs of ALL our learners, we talk about access issues in terms of devices for ALL students and we believe it’s important ALL our kids succeed and continue to focus on raising achievement for our priority learners. Does this mean closing the achievement gap? Or is there an expectation for schools to help address the economic gap too?

Entities like the Manaiakalani Education Trust are invested in empowering their whole community by, “realising the potential for greatly enhanced employment and life outcomes for these students.” Can technology-based initiatives like this one help to close the economic gap too?

There are some recommendations for schools in the report to the New Zealand Children's Commissioner Solutions to Child Poverty in New Zealand: Evidence for action. 

What are your thoughts? What is the role of education in terms of solutions to child poverty? Is this 'Bigger than Ben Hur' or is there something new we haven’t thought of yet?


  • Catriona Pene (View all users posts) 20 Nov 2013 11:26am ()

    I remember visiting Pt. England school and listening to Dorothy Burt talk about the way in which they had set up an agreement for their parents to buy the netbooks. They had agreed on a weekly cost that was affordable to their community and then set up a payment plan. One of the unforseen benefits of them doing this was that they created a credit history for their parents, which had not been something they had had before.

    I also heard that parents are using the access to homework material to learn alongside their children.

    I am amazed at the many levels of impact this project has had. This project has certainly helped to close the achievement and economic gaps of its community.

  • Susan McMillan (View all users posts) 20 Nov 2013 1:00pm ()

    I was also amazed to learn about this school.  I came across it quite by accident, through a Catholic newspaper website whilereading about the achievement gap maybe last year.  As I watched several videos posted on their website,  I had never before  heard students talk so competently about their learning. Several other things struck me: the effective partnership with parents, the consistent message received by the children that they would contribute positively to society, the use of technology, the data being collected, and the acceptance that this was a long journey - not a quick fix.  

    Shortly afterwards I was at Auckland Uni for study and after a session about the achievement gap asked about this school as it seemed relevant.  A lecturer said she knew nothing but thought someone in the Ed. Department might.  I thought  - astounding!  This is a school, in this city,  that had been visited by the 2IC of Google because as he said there was no other school in the world doing what this school was doing with technology ... or words to that effect.  

    Certainly I do hear the school's name now - not a lot tho' and they don't hide their light under a bushel; their website is highly informative about their journey and their pride.  I don't know why in such a small country it's hard to hear about these positive initiatives.  Maybe they have been working quietly away and now their patience and committment is bearing fruit?  The paperless stance was certainly radical but it appears to be working fine.

  • meeka Inglis (View all users posts) 20 Nov 2013 8:44pm ()

    I heard about the Manaia Kalani Trust half way through this year it sounded very interesting.... I had just sourced 20 free computers for our school, ( I kept 12 in my classroom ) and had seen dramatic improvements in spelling and engagement.

    I was googling 'Will I Am' a few nights after hearing about the trust and read that he had donated $100 000 to the project. I spent the rest of the evening searching through the Manaia Kalani site. 

    the project amazes me, the parents have brought in and the students are showing such a wide range of skill development. The parents must be very proud of their kids and of themselves as parents.

    there seems to be an initiative to offer lease to buy computers to families in decile 1 schools. I work in a decile 3 school and our local High School is working towards BYOD for 2015. I would love to see students benefit from BYOD at our school too. 

    I have received a years leave without pay and would like to use this time to set up a trust in Motueka/Tasman that will lease to buy computers to our families so that they can afford to support their children's learning. I am about to start looking for funding for my time and have restarted to outline how the trust may work. It is very early days

  • Catriona Pene (View all users posts) 25 Nov 2013 12:52pm ()

    In the VPLD community recently, Madeline Campbell responded to the challenge "How do you ensure that the learning you are participating in everyday does not stop with you but helps to grow others?" by posting a link to this video.

    A film about money, value and trust in the Networked Society.

    How technology and mobile phones are being used to disrupt the financial/monetary system in rural Africa, benefitting farmers in Uganda by providing mobile money for people with no bank accounts... "cash is king - the king is dead"

    Interesting viewing. : ) 

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 17 Oct 2016 11:15am ()

    Here's a very moving and inspirational way to start the week. In this TedX talks in Tauranga, Dr Johan Morreau, a paediatrician (30 years) from Rotorua talks about How important are the first 1000 days of a child’s life.  

    Gently, yet vehemently he explains how we, as a society, have the capacity to create an environment where every child has the chance to grow up with the ability to achieve their full potential. The true cost to society not doing this is truly sobering.

    This experience has enabled him to develop a keen understanding of the relationship between Government policy and delivery of care; and to challenge the current approach to child health and well-being.

    We often talk about the role of schools to help provide aspirational opportunities for all learners, especially priority learners, some of which suffer as a consequence of living in poverty, but there are also actions local communities and government agencies can do to help address the devastating consequences of the first 1000 days - that have proven to be detrimental to our children, young people and therefore society.

    Interesting point about every child learning te reo Māori. What do you think of this Tedx Talk?

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 30 Aug 2017 3:05pm ()

    While we come to terms with new outcomes for Digital Technologies in the Technology curriculum, there are some ethical considerations that can’t be ignored in regards to equity and accessChildren’s access and use of computers at home in New Zealand may influence their digital capability and thus their ability to participate in the digital world in the futureUnderstanding children’s use and experience with digital technologies (Victoria University of Wellington, June 2017). This research undertook;

    Semi structured interviews with nearly 70 children across 12 schools from around New Zealand were conducted to help understand how primary school students (9-11 year olds) from various backgrounds use and experience digital technologies in their daily lives. The children were asked to describe what they do online, when they do it, why, what they most enjoy, what they learn, what worries them, and what they wish for but don’t currently have. Our data collection was slightly biased towards regional, rural and high Maori and Pacific population areas because prior research suggested that there was likely to be the greatest deficiencies in access and use in these areas.  

    In short summary, an assumption can be made that one device per child is desirable, it is uncommon, especially for those children in lower socio-economic circumstances (including high ratio of Māori and Pasifika). This study showed access to digital devices and the Internet is influenced by home income and home values that in turn affects:

    • Number of devices, systems of sharing where devices were limited
    • Differentiations include a) freedom of access; B) time available which effects embedding of digital experiences.
    • Unreliability of network for learning.

    Decile use by children interviewed graph 

    As well as the child’s school factors (classroom teachers, strategic leadership, accessibility to learning with/through digital technologies), home-based factors have meant that there are inequities, where children from lower decile school homes compete to have access to desirable devices for safe, productive entertainment and learning. Generally it was only in the higher decile schools that children had their own home device. P 33

    There are many other valuable findings in this report, but it’s the ethics of equitable access that strikes a chord. If all children have the legislative right to learning, what does this mean; when a school chooses to go BYOD, there is an expectation for school-based learning to continue at home, or for students to share their learning with their parents - when some families just don’t have access to digital devices of the Internet at home?

    What is our moral imperative as schools? If there is a digital divide in your communities, how is this being acknowledged or addressed?

    Cross posted from The digital divide, what is our moral imperative?

  • Ginette Van Praag (View all users posts) 30 Aug 2017 3:24pm ()

    Several suggestions that came to mind to help mitigate the digital divide (not mentioning rural and remote schools where internet connectivity is still unreliable / patchy for some) are:

    • Schools provide after-school / school holiday access to technology
    • Schools and communities work together with local experts to facilitate community based access to technology and activities - the Digital Technology Equity For All Fund will help build these connections and facilities
    • Low priced yet high-tech technology that is afforded through physical computing with the Raspberry Pi can also make a significant contribution to bridging the divide.  A Raspberry Pi with peripherals and electronic bits n pieces can cost under $300
    • Smartphones with Internet connectivity are available for $29
    • Chromebooks for $200
    • If schools insist on BYOD they should ensure that learners without devices have access.

    The experts in this space are The 2020 Trust, who have been providing computers, connectivity and training to communities for many years....Computers in Homes

    You may find their article: New Zealand’s Digital Inclusion Challenge: Beyond Computers in Homes an interesting read.

    NEWS: The 20/20 Trust today (30/08) released the Digital Inclusion Manifesto: All New Zealanders have affordable access to the internet and the skills and confidence to use digital technologies for learning, for work and for life.

    (great timing Tessa!)

    Ngā mihi

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