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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

  • 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.

  • 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. : ) 

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