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CCE March 2005
Parliamentary Submission

Citizenship education policy ideas for local government were presented in early 2005 to a New Zealand Parliamentary inquiry by CCE - and in releasing it on the web, CCE has added emphasis in bold to ideas that people from Parliament, government, education and other circles could develop.

 

Find out more:

The Centre for Citizenship Education made its submission to the New Zealand Parliament’s 2005 Justice and Electoral Committee “Inquiry into the 2004 Local Authority Elections”, focusing on its term of reference related to “participation and elector turnout”.

The Committee said it wanted to asses whether a school civics education programme might affect election turnouts and encourage greater participation in our democracy.

Anthony Haas, Director, Centre for Citizenship Education, spoke to the multi party Committee chaired by Tim Barnett MP in March 2005.

1 CCE BACKGROUND

The Centre for Citizenship Education has grown out of experience in publishing five post general election editions of the DecisionMaker Guide to Parliament, and the consequential recognition that in addition to press gallery and publishing contributions to citizenship education, there are policy and professional development issues that also need whole of government attention to foster participation in our democracy.


2 THE PROBLEM

o The proportion of eligible voters who did not vote in the 2004 New Zealand Local Authority Elections is another reminder that some people do not participate as fully as they might in exercising their democratic rights. Other societies also note declining levels of voter and other forms of participation.
o The Electoral Commission responded to problems when it says it wants to achieve a vision where New Zealand’s electoral framework and processes are widely used, understood, trusted and valued. It says it wants to make an impact on levels of use, understanding, trust and value of the electoral framework and processes amongst those who currently have the lowest levels. “Work is underway focused on Maori and youth, with Pacific to come”.
o The New Zealand Settlement Strategy recognises that new settlers are amongst other population groups who may also participate less at different times. Some of them do not feel New Zealand acts as a multicultural nation in which they are included.
o The Diversity Action Programme was an immediate respons in August 2004 to negative actions aimed at minorities, and the need to work at building an inclusive society.
o Policy makers and officials may not know all they need to know to understand why particular groups of people participate less
o Schools have a limited focus on delivering citizenship education, and the curriculum is crowded:
o Social studies in the New Zealand curriculum has a predominantly indirect citizenship education focus
o Teachers could provide better citizenship education with more time, educational resources, motivation and professional development
o Much of the limited attention to citizenship education is shaped by the silo mentality amongst some institutions and managers, underdeveloped cooperation between institutions with parallel briefs related to citizenship education, and a growing but incomplete whole of government focus
o Insufficient leadership is visible at local, educational and national level to citizenship education.


3 RECOMMENDATIONS


Local Government
Local Government Act: Councils, Democratic Service and other local management, and citizens can use the machinery of the 2002 Local Government Act (e.g Long Term Community
Council Plans, Business Plans) to set local citizenship education objectives and plans.

Kids voting: Kids Voting programmes could be applied by more local councils, their schools and communities – thus helping future voters, and their parents. Mock elections within schools will encourage pupils to talk to their parents, and perhaps to prompt the parents to vote.

Ethnic Advisory Councils: Ethnic advisory councils, reflecting experience with the establishment of Pacific Islands and other specialist advisory bodies, can assist migrant and host at the local government as well as other levels to foster communication and participation.

Women’s organisations: work with women’s (and other nongovernmental organisations) to foster participation in the political process.

Citizenship ceremonies: Encourage Mayors and Ministers to use citizenship ceremonies to educate new New Zealanders about New Zealand local and national democracy.

Central Government: Ministers and government managers can be both responsive and proactive in supporting citizenship education initiatives at Local Government level, applying a whole of government approach.

Learning by experience: Walking bus programmes and other projects could be designed and applied more widely by cooperation between local authorities and schools, giving locals experience in operating New Zealand democracy.

Professional development: training should be designed and delivered to assist intermediaries in the political process to facilitate participation by citizens. For example, school trustees are offered training about their roles to a much greater extent than councillors are offered training about their roles.

Educational material development: Multimedia educational material development continues to be necessary, as illustrated by the November 2004 advice to the Speaker that Parliamentary Service and the Office of the Clerk consider collaborating to produce a video about Parliament for public education purposes, and as illustrated by some local authorities such as Wellington City Council) publication of education resources. Whilst there is a need for targeted resources on aspects of local government relevant to particular audiences, there is also a need to context those aspects.

School Boards of Trustees: School trustees are relatively numerous (perhaps an average of half a dozen people on more than 2500 boards) and relatively well served by training about the discharge of board duties. Work with the NZ School Trustees Assn and boards to enhance board training could both help trustees in and outside their board civic duties, and encourage their schools to teach citizenship education.

Parliament Speakers’ leadership: In addition to the continuation and update of the leadership of the Speaker, his or her authority could reinforce positive trends in citizenship education in local government and amongst appropriate supporters, including Parliamentarians and educators.

Current and former MPs: Serving and former MPs have an interest in informing electors about their Parliamentary duties – they could be better supported to deliver citizenship education about the local/national interface, and in turn support and motivate local teachers to implementrelevant discretionary parts of the curriculum.

Inclusive tone of Parliament: Visits by tourists and by student groups, invitations to events in the Grand Hall and other places in Parliament, and direct access by people with special interests to relevant Parliamentarians reflects an inclusive tone by the “Peoples’ Parliament”. The Speaker could foster the invitation of people who might otherwise limit their participation in civic life, to attend appropriate events at Parliament. Practical steps could readily be designed to implement the political will to be more inclusive of culturally diverse New Zealanders.

Parliamentary Education: The development of a cooperative Parliamentary Education strategy for Parliamentary Service and the Office of the Clerk, working in collaboration with each
other and on projects with the Electoral Commission and with the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, could be expanded to include the Ministry of Education and other institutions, and is an emergent model for others to emulate for local citizenship education.

Political parties: Political parties may find it in their interest to facilitate fuller participation in their affairs by people who share their interests and values. Participation in party affairs, from policy formation to electioneering, can enhance citizenship education.

THE BIG PICTURE
Multi faceted approach: Citizenship education should be provided in many ways related to the needs of the users more than the providers.

Collaborative approach: Mutually reinforcing strategies and implementation should be in place in local government, central government and education.

Culturally diverse approach: Citizenship education design and delivery should reflect the needs of an increasingly culturally diverse New Zealand population in a global environment.

Citizenship and nation building: Seek out and emphasis symbols of citizenship and nationhood around which New Zealand can rally, e.g the national flag, the national anthem, the citizenship ceremony held locally for new citizens. Help people answer the question as to what it is to be a New Zealander. Accept new ways of doing things from people of many cultures who have settled in New Zealand, as well as giving them knowledge and tools about the current way of doing things here.

New Zealand democracy: Citizenship education should not only focus on the institutions and processes of Parliament, government and the law. Citizenship education should also expand on the big picture to assist those new New Zealanders from different political systems to understand New Zealand’s participatory democracy.

Ladder of participation: Encourage sharing of power so that citizens feel they can influence from higher rungs on the ladder of participation (Appendix 3).

Media: Media could both carry more citizenship education content, and reports on how citizenship does work and might work better.

DecisionMaker Publications: APEN, the publisher of the DecisionMaker series with its core and supplementary multimedia content on how Parliament works, how government works, how the law works, the big picture and other focused topics, continues to be interested in providing citizenship education on its own and in collaborative arrangements.

Research: research and educational interests could build understanding of strategies that enable all New Zealanders to participate to the maximum.

New Zealand Settlement Strategy
: The roll out and maintenance of the New Zealand Settlement Strategy, with its focus on delivery through migrant resource personnel located in relevant local authority areas, provides an opportunity to include relevant citizenship education content, collaboratively deliverable, to audiences with special needs. Councils most actively working with resettlement policies, such as Manukau and Wellington, could be partnered to increase the provision of citizenship education. Local Government New Zealand could be invited to promote products of value to its members through its website and other channels, and perhaps to develop relevant initiatives in its future work programmes.

New Zealand Diversity Action Programme: The ten point action plan for Cultural Diversity, facilitated by the Race Relations Commissioner www.hrc.co.nz/diversity, provides a series of local government and other channels through which citizenship education can be provided to New Zealanders with general and specialist needs. It is a citizens' initiative, and
operates on a partnership principle, with partners who help to achieve one or more of the programme's ten steps. Partnership is open to all organisations that support the Programme, including community organisations, religious groups, cultural groups, government departments, local government organisations, schools, education and research institutions, media, businesses and sports groups.
The first National Diversity Forum was held at Parliament in August 2004, and adopted the New Zealand Diversity Action Programme.
The second national diversity forum August 23 2005, was convened to review progress in the implementation of the Diversity Action Programme and to develop actions for the following year.
A number of sector forums were planned to feed into the national forum.
National and local forums could be tailored to foster the participation of people from culturally diverse backgrounds into local government.

Directory on Cultural Diversity: The Centre for Citizenship Education, as its partnership contribution to the New Zealand Diversity Action Programme, is expanding its annual Directory for Citizenship Education to include a directory on cultural diversity. This will complement information on government departments, crown entities state owned enterprises, information and services and help with rights and the law currently contained in the directory. The purpose of the cultural diversity section will be to provide information and pathways to key organisations involved in promoting cultural diversity in New Zealand. The Directory was published in the second quarter of 2005, and the online edition is available to participants in the August NZ Diversity Forum, on the anniversary of the Forum that established it at Parliament in 2005.

4 CCE STRUCTURE
The CCE is a nongovernmental organisation established on the basis of a quarter century of experience in publishing citizenship education, starting in 1971 with Sione Comes to New Zealand, A Samoan Migrants Story, extended after each New Zealand General Election with the DecisionMaker Guides to Parliament and Government. Local government oriented citizenship education experience includes the 1992 DecisionMaker edition Handling Local Issues and the 2004 DecisionMaker Guide to Local Government.

Since its formation in 2002 the CCE has expanded experience with Parliaments, governments, international organisations, publishers, educators and other non government organisations.

CCE is serviced by a secretariat in Wellington, provided since establishment by Asia Pacific Economic News Ltd, and has the benefit of comment from advisory panel members who likewise have wide connections, both in this country and internationally. Anthony Haas, the Establishment Director, is a 20042007 Honorary Fellow of the School of Government, Victoria University of Wellington.

Asia Pacific Economic News Ltd’s representation in the Parliamentary Press Gallery helps the collection, evaluation and dissemination of information and knowledge for citizenship education.

5 CCE OBJECTIVES
In its Prospectus (Attachment 1) CCE says “Many people in New Zealand today stand to benefitfrom obtaining a better understanding of the principles and procedures of our evolving pluralist democracy, from coming to appreciate more fully the role and responsibilities of the individual citizen, and the opportunities inherent in our system. They should welcome the diversity of communities, large and small, all over time adjusting to each other and all contributing to the New Zealand identity.

The Centre for Citizenship Education (CCE) is able to contribute to policy formation and educational development, with publications and other means as appropriate.”

Our objects and work programme takes their cue from Parliament, our experience in the media
(attachment 2), and our belief that if our democracy is to thrive, we need an informed and responsible electorate.

Former New Zealand Speakers said in 1998 in Restoring public confidence in Parliament
· The media should see themselves as major participants in maintaining the relevance of Parliament for the people
· Civics education should be introduced into the school curriculum
· The public must take responsibility for participation in our Parliamentary system.

Much still remains to be done to build an informed public, as was said in the November 2004 report on Resourcing Parliament.

The 2004 triennial Parliamentary Appropriations Review spoke of “a closer link between the parliamentary agencies and the Centre for Citizenship Education”. The Centre welcomes that comment, and this submission is made as a result of this and other encouragement.

6 CONCLUSION
The recommendations for enhanced civics education to foster participation in local government complement policies appropriate at other levels – particularly national and educational – for New Zealand.

Publisher Asia Pacific Economic News Ltd found in its many years of experience in publishing citizenship education that allied policy settings, and professional development capacities, were amongst limitations impeding most effective collection, evaluation and dissemination of citizenship education resources.

The experience gained has been reflected in the establishment of the CCE, which in turn offers a foundation structure able to be collaboratively developed. CCE is ready to cooperate with others.

Find out more:
Centre for Citizenship Education
Secretariat: P O Box 3978, 5 Maurice Tce, Wellington
Email: ahaas@decisionmaker.co.nz, Web: www.decisionmaker.co.nz/cce
Mobile: O27 242 2301, Fax: 04 3850238
Attachment 1: CCE Prospectus, February 2005
Attachment 2: Role of the Media, Presentation by Anthony Haas to Pacific conference,
Canterbury University, 2004
Attachment 3: DecisionMaker How Participation works, 2 nd qtr, 2003


 

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