NZ’s Education System Gets a Resounding F, Must Try Harder.

NZ gets an F

NZ’s education system gets a F

New Zealand’s home spun education system is often touted to the lucrative billion dollar international student market as “world class”. However,  many immigrant families from first world countries say it is over sold and under-delivered and their kids stand still for a couple of years after they emigrate to New Zealand. Read Stories about Education: “Students Get NCEA Without Learning Anything” .

Information obtained by the New Zealand Listener under the Official Information Act has revealed that the NCEA is churning out students with low levels of education who are poorly prepared for the intellectual rigors of tertiary education and  have a poor work ethic.

Furthermore, on Thursday Education Minister Hekia Parata warned the country to prepare for an embarrassing drop in its education rankings in next week’s OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).

PISA results rate the performance of 15 year olds every three years in maths, science and reading.

Here’s a snippet of what The Listener published under the heading

NCEA slammed -Universities are saying that our secondary school qualification is causing serious problems.

A confidential Tertiary Education Commission report reveals profound and widespread concerns about the way NCEA prepares students for further study. It paints a picture of substandard mathematics and science education, NCEA students coming unstuck in their first year at university and tertiary providers scrambling to come up with their own diagnostic tests and remedial courses.

The document is a summary of formal reports from 15 tertiary institutions – universities and polytechnics – that offer engineering courses. The institutions are not named. One told the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC): “An extremely significant concern is the poor preparation of the bulk of our student cohort following NCEA study.”

The report, drawn up as part of the Government’s plan to boost the numbers of engineering graduates, was presented at a high-level TEC meeting on September 2. The Listener was leaked a key page and obtained the full document under the Official Information Act.

The problems the report flags with NCEA fall into three main categories:
• students getting confused or being given poor advice on subject choice;
• those who do the right subjects still being unprepared for tertiary level study; and
• the system not creating a good work ethic.” source

The Listener went on to reveal

“First-year engineering students were not “well grounded in mathematics” and even moderately achieving high school pupils struggled to connect what they had learned at NCEA level with the demands of tertiary study.

Engineering and science are regarded as important subjects in improving New Zealand’s knowledge base and economic growth, and have been earmarked as a priority by the Government…”

It sounds like the tertiary institutions have a struggle on their hands when the majority of their intake has problems with the basics of math and has a poor work ethic. This is bound to put pressure on them to lower their standards and could be the reason why New Zealand slips further down the international university league table every year.

Considering taking your kids to New Zealand because of its world class education system? Think again, find somewhere that does things properly. Your kids only get one chance at school, don’t blow it.

A teacher says “Students Get NCEA Without Learning Anything”

Students can get NCEA, that is gain credits without actually ‘learning’ anything. I watch it happening all around me in my high school. The teachers do all their work, the kids just type or write the answers. Its a scam so we can pretend that we have an educated population. In fact we have kids illiterate in 2 languages [Maori and English],

Teachers who are undereducated who came through makeshift courses designed to give them a degree much like a birthday present, and yes teachers and students lacking in numeracy skills.

My school is a ‘pretend’ school. Kids spend more time on so-called extra and co-curricular then they do in ‘learning’ to read, to comprehend, to write [yes, to write, I had a 15 year old ask me to teach him how to write last week], to do the sums that will help them manage their money or more likely ‘the dole’.

National Standards may begin to redress that. I live in hope…I teach high school boys who still cannot write a sentence or comprehend even at senior school.

Basics at primary school is essential and a lot less of computers, games, cellphones and TV. The kids are so addicted they get angry when deprived; they come to school exhausted because they’ve spent the night on some electronic device.

The violence and abuse of teachers in schools has also increased and is out of hand even to kids throwing stones at a teacher without any consequence!”

Re. NCEA v. Cambridge Maths, an ex student says

I did NCEA and Cambridge maths. The stuff I did for NCEA in year 13 was easier than the stuff I did in year 9 for Cambridge and the amount of people who just weren’t prepared for maths at university is phenomenal. NCEA promotes rote learning as opposed to actual thinking skills and constantly punishes students who think outside the box or give a right answer which is different than expected (more applicable for the explain questions). It gives no marks for demonstrating understanding but rather for giving a specific answer that the marker wants.

I understand Cambridge and IB don’t necessarily suit everyone and some careers don’t require an understanding (although it is helpful but for some it just takes too long) but do require knowledge. NCEA has it’s place. University is something however which requires understanding and not just rote learning and under NCEA students are woefully under prepared.

To top it off many teachers do not even understand the requirements of NCEA to ensure students know what subjects and standards they need to take to get where they want to go. What we need is teachers who understand the systems, universities with higher requirements (IB or Cambridge), and a decent choice of educating systems (IB, Cambridge, and NCEA) from which a child can choose one which suits their learning style and chosen career path. Many private schools already offer this. Public schools need to be able to do the same and NCEA itself needs to be made consistant (sic).

An expat parent says

“When we moved back home after a fistful of miserable years in New Zealand, the schools were 2 years ahead here. This does not surprise me. Drugs in the schools, indifference, a “good enough” attitude and unwillingness to push students, bullying, sports obsession, lack of financial resources to address learning problems and distribute sufficient supplies, stultifying straitjacket. The teachers were usually nice people. They just had their own way of doing things. Worst of all, however, was that they thought it was better than the systems in 1st World countries because they considered the focus on memorisation to be inferior to their own practice of supposedly exercising the brain (along the lines of teach people to fish, not give them fish). I did not find that they were doing this though. Merely claiming they were doing it as a coverup for what they weren’t doing. It was just another manifestation of their generalised approach of “doing things crappier while claiming that their method worked better than anyone else’s and cooking the figures to match the claim”.

Have experience of NZ’s education system? tell us below.

You may also like:

our Education and Children’s Issues Wiki

P Ray Writes: Earning and Learning in New Zealand.

Migrant Tales – Teaching in New Zealand and the NCEA:  “NCEA markers and moderators are being told to “fudge the figures” for the Minister of Education, a shocked insider reveals in the July issue of North & South..”

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12 thoughts on “NZ’s Education System Gets a Resounding F, Must Try Harder.

  1. I don’t have a whit of electrical training, and I wouldn’t attempt such a thing, knowing that I would get electrocuted. Common sense!!! Something we are all told by our mums at home. For goodness’ sake.

  2. Sorry to hear about the electocution.

    But this does prove an interesting point about the obssession with certifications. There is no way to legislate common sence. A cable of the size to power up a camper’s site has got to be about as big around as your thumb. Unless you cut the wires by themselves [hot, neutral, and ground], there will be arcing between conductors.
    I wonder what type of certs were needed for his role at the lighting company. Why did he not know to disconnect the wires individually? Cutting the wire together would ruin your pliers [large arcing when conducters connect via metal of pliers] but he would have been OK if the pliers were insulated. These are all things that anyone with “common sence” should know, let alone someone with an electrical/lighting cert should have been trained to know.

  3. This is a tragedy, but it comes in under the banner of
    “some people are getting “qualified” without knowing the dangers at the workplace or outside” … NCEA maybe?

    Here’s the other thing: If a tradesman has an accident, I figure it makes sense for all the previous customers of that person, to check that the repairs that were done, don’t kill them …

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11387023
    He had left his own campsite site at about 12.30am to deal with the issue, she said.

    “Allegedly he was frustrated about a noisy stereo and he would have gone to disconnect the power.”

    It appeared he had attempted to cut the power cord to the caravan with pliers, Ms Kennett said.

    He was found around 3am by the occupants of the caravan, she said.

    It was unclear how many volts the power cord carried, but it was thought to be around 240 volts.

    His death has been referred to the coroner.

    Mr Smith had worked as a lighting technician at Waikato Sound and Lighting for the past five years, the company’s director Jonathon Roberts said.

    • Maybe he thought the circuit was protected by a RCD or circuit breaker and he was safe? Perhaps whoever installed the circuits at the campsite has got some questions to answer.

      • True, but an updated report (http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/65068436/man-electrocuted-at-northland-campground) says:

        He understood Smith had then taken out a Leatherman knife to cut off the plug so it couldn’t be put back in.

        Those knives from what I have seen – are certainly not that big.
        And they don’t seem very insulated either. As the multi-tool locking mechanism is quite exposed.

        It’s correct that the RCD should have kicked in, but poor earthing is a maintenance issue – I have had those shocks, without the RCD kicking in. Maybe he only had his leatherman multi-tool and no mains tester … but on the other hand, what was he doing manually cutting the power by himself, unknown(?) to everyone he knew or camp management?

        “”He was interested in events, music, special effects and IT. He was a really practical guy.”
        It may have been a case of drunkenness as the report doesn’t mention a toxicology test.

        Gallagher said the tragedy could have been prevented if a a residual current device (RCD) had been plugged into the powerbox, he said.

        “As soon as he cut with that knife it would have cut [the power] out.”

        The devices cost about $130-$150, he said, and would stop power flow if they detected any change to normal operation.
        Hmm. Maybe somebody was “trying to save money” …

        • Leatherman are [or I have not seen one] insulated. The “plier” part of the leatherman is quite small, so maybe the cutting of the [I can almost assure of this] was partial, so some conductors were exposed, but the cable was not parted. So, the pliers were stuck in the cable.
          Even a circuit breaker should have “tripped”, might have given you a shock before tripping, but it would have tripped. If it was a fuse, then the fuse was over rated. Poor [or no} protection on the circuit [no breaker, gfi/rcd] and poor decision to try and cut a “live wire” with uninsulated cutters.
          “He was a really practical guy”, this comes into question as what he did seems to dispute this statement. Granted, cutting the wire would disconnect power, but he could have: unplugged the cable, turned off the power to the cable, cut the wires individually, tripped the breaker, then cut the wire, called the campground manager and had him deal with it. There were a multitude of things that could have been done. The option that he chose seems to have been the least “practical”.

          The point that I was trying to make was that NZ is obsessed with certifications. Yet despite all of the regulatory “red tape”, the regulations and certifications have proved to be completely usless.
          Back in the States, as a homeowner, I am allowed to do any and all work [including electrical, plumbing…] on my own house. I have replaced electric panels, connected panels to mains/grid, rewired houses, installed toilet drains… All of this work is regulated in NZ. You need a certification to do any of this.
          So, a “homeowner” in the States can [and does] the same work that specialized, regulated, and certified NZer can do, and live to tell about it.

  4. ” NCEA promotes rote learning as opposed to actual thinking skills and constantly punishes students who think outside the box or give a right answer which is different than expected (more applicable for the explain questions)” Isn’t that interesting. I was lectured by a school principal who claimed that the U.S. taught to the test, while NZ schools “taught children how to think”. Apparently not. Have to say, after moving back home, having seen the level of material taught in both countries, the NZ schools were at least a couple years behind, maybe 3. In math at least.

  5. When we moved back home after a fistful of miserable years in New Zealand, the schools were 2 years ahead here. This does not surprise me. Drugs in the schools, indifference, a “good enough” attitude and unwillingness to push students, bullying, sports obsession, lack of financial resources to address learning problems and distribute sufficient supplies, stultifying straitjacket. The teachers were usually nice people. They just had their own way of doing things. Worst of all, however, was that they thought it was better than the systems in 1st World countries because they considered the focus on memorisation to be inferior to their own practice of supposedly exercising the brain (along the lines of teach people to fish, not give them fish). I did not find that they were doing this though. Merely claiming they were doing it as a coverup for what they weren’t doing. It was just another manifestation of their generalised approach of “doing things crappier while claiming that their method worked better than anyone else’s and cooking the figures to match the claim”.

  6. We’ve homeschooled our kids. Our oldest has been involved with “publicly” educated kids socially, and has heard the stories of what goes on in schools. In getting our oldest enrolled in University, we had to send them through a “foundation” program [basicly a remedial evaluation]. Our kid did much better than others that had gone through “public” school, and is still performing well. Yet the “university” thinks that homeschooled kids recieve an education that need to be evaluated.
    I know that their education is far superior to what is available in “public” schools.

  7. The amount of people who just weren’t prepared for maths? How much people are you referring to? And yes I ‘taught’ NCEA Maths at Levels 1 and 2. When I demanded that the cheating stop the Principal interviewed me – “You are a slow learner, Harry.” “How can I help it? How can I help but see what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four.” “Sometimes, Harry. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become a Kiwi teacher and comply with Ministry of Education guidelines on teaching in the New Zealand context.” (after George Orwell 1984)

  8. Its not just the education system that fails,the Government fails in Education and at worst Unemployment for 18-30s,the area I live in Wellington has a pretty high Suicide rate due to unemployment for the youths,the thing is I have heard of many youths that can get a degree or bachelor will leave New Zealand for good,in my situation,I know I can’t leave straight away and it could take me 5-7 years before I can move to Japan thats once I get my Bachelor in IT,also WINZ’s Unemployment Benefit is not just causing crime,the rate/payment is minimal at best,I have heard of that a lot of youth struggle to survive on it,also at the supermarkets,food is outrageously priced,my warning to the youths from Japan,Thailand,US and etc that want to move or work in NZ,don’t bother,I’ve lived in NZ for 19 years and cannot even get a job

    E2NZ,can you please publish comment too?

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