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Document 14:

Govt wants citizenship education improved

The Government agrees that more should be done to continue to improve New
Zealand civics and citizenship education in schools.

It makes this point for Parliament in February 2006 in responding to two Parliamentary select committees that reported back to Parliament in August 2005 after public hearings.

Civics education for local elections
The Government backed “civics education” in its response to the report of the Justice and Electoral Committee on the 2004 Local Authority elections, chaired by current Labour whip Tim Barnett MP. The Barnett committee said “all members except the ACT member recommend that the Ministry of Education should be encouraged to strengthen the place of citizenship education in the curriculum and make more teaching resources available for this purpose”. The Government after noting the recommendations of the committee said it “will address citizenship education as part of the current review of the New Zealand curriculum”.

Civics to foster constitutional understanding
The Inquiry to review New Zealand’s existing constitutional arrangements, chaired by United First leader Peter Dunne MP, recommended “to foster greater understanding of our constitutional arrangements in the long term, increased effort should be made to improve civics and citizenship education in schools to provide young people with the knowledge needed to become responsible and engaged citizens”.

In its response to the Dunne committee report the Government said it “agrees that more should be done to continue to improve civics and citizenship education in schools”.

Ministry of Education curriculum stocktake
The Government response recalled that in 2000 the Ministry of Education initiated a stocktake of the New Zealand curriculum. The stocktake concluded that “there should be more emphasis in the curriculum on citizenship (local, national and global)”.

In March 2003, the government agreed to the establishment of the New Zealand Curriculum Project to address the recommendations in the stocktake report. This project is redeveloping the national curriculum “so that the values, understandings and competencies for New Zealand students are clearly articulated and there is clear focus on the quality of teaching”.

Citizenship education will be made more explicit
The Government response said through this process citizenship education will be made more explicit in the national curriculum. Government said schools will be consulted in 2006 and the new curriculum will be implemented in 2007.

Assess what Government can do in other forums
“Strengthening citizenship education in schools is one way that the Government can ensure that young people have the knowledge needed to become responsible and engaged citizens. The Government is also committed to continuing to assess what more it can do in other forums to strengthen civic awareness among our young people, for example, celebration of national events, open days at courts and citizenship ceremonies.”

By Anthony Haas, Parliamentary correspondent for Asia Pacific Economic News and Director, Centre for Citizenship Education

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Updated Wednesday, 08 February 2006
©Copyright Asia Pacific Economic News Ltd on behalf of Center for Citizenship Education 2005