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New Zealand curriculum to include digital technology

Posted on 5-Jul-2016 10:38 | Filed under: News

Digital technology is to be formally integrated into the New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa, Education Minister Hekia Parata announced today at the NZTech Advance Education Technology Summit in Auckland.


“This is the first change to the New Zealand Curriculum since its introduction in 2007 and reflects our Government’s commitment to championing 21st century practice in teaching and learning,” says Ms Parata.


“It will ensure that we have an education system that prepares children and young people for a future where digital fluency will be critical for success.”


The decision is an outcome of the Government’s Science and Society Strategic Plan ‘A Nation of Curious Minds: Te Whenua Hihiri i te Mahara’.


“One of the key initiatives of Curious Minds was to review the positioning and content of digital technology within the New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa. As a result of the review recommendations, digital technology will be included as a strand of the Technology learning area in the New Zealand Curriculum, and as a whenu within the Hangarau Wāhanga Ako of Te Marautanga o Aotearoa,” says Ms Parata.


“The information technology sector is one of the fastest growing sectors in New Zealand, with a demand for skilled graduates. This step will support young people to develop skills, confidence and interest in digital technologies and lead them to opportunities across the diverse and growing IT sector. We look forward to continuing to work with the IT sector to ensure we have a future-focused, world-leading education system.”


The Institute of IT Professionals NZ (IITP), New Zealand’s technology professional body representing thousands of IT professionals across New Zealand, welcomes the expansion of digital tech in schools announced by Minister of Education Hekia Parata today, however is disappointed the broader changes needed in this area have apparently been dumped. 


IITP Chief Executive Paul Matthews says he wants to see a Digital Technologies programme deliver the best results possible for New Zealand students.


“While we absolutely welcome the introduction of digital technologies and computational thinking down to Year 1, and see this as an important step forward, our industry sees the lack of movement on the structure and position of Digital Technologies in schools as a real lost opportunity”.


Digital Technologies in schools currently sits alongside vocation-based subjects such as hard materials, food technology and textiles derived from woodwork, metalwork, cooking and sewing respectively. The review considered whether keeping it there could still achieve the change in focus and attention needed to prepare students for the digital world, and to enable New Zealand to achieve strong tech-led economic growth. 


Experts participating in the review from the tech profession, industry, digital technologies teachers, researchers and other domain experts were clear that moving it into its own subject learning area was absolutely necessary, thus the decision by the Minister to block this was disappointing.


“It’s like telling a subject as essential as Maths that they have to be a part of PE. Both are important, but they’re simply different things,” Matthews says.


The tech industry was also disappointed at the lack of real funding in this area, and the time lost over several years. Today’s announcement follows a 12-month broad review with stakeholders from across the sector followed by seven months of deliberations by the Minister. 


NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller says the government has made a great first step to introducing digital technology into the New Zealand curricula to cope with the demands of fast-approaching digital future. 


He supported the Government’s announcement today of an expansion of tech in schools from senior secondary down to Year 1. Education Minister Hekia Parata said at the NZTech Advance Education Technology Summit in Auckland that digital technology is to be integrated into the New Zealand curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa. 


“With the rate of technology advancement, it is almost impossible to comprehend how different our lives will be in the next 10 to 20 years and its vital that we prepare our kids for the future, for jobs that don’t even exist yet.  One thing is for certain, computer technology will be pervasive so computational thinking skills are critical for the future success. 


“NZTech is excited the Government is adding a digital tech section across all streams of curricula. There is specific investment still coming for resources and teacher capability. The aspirational aim is to have all NZ schools able to offer digital technologies to all students by 2018."


From now until the end of 2017, the Government will consult with stakeholders, design new curriculum content, and develop achievement objectives across the whole learner pathway. It will be fully integrated into the New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa in 2018.