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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?


  • 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?

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