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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.

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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?

Replies

  • 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.


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