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Citizenship Education

Adequate citizenship education can make a difference. It can help people know their rights, have their voices heard, choose representatives to govern on their behalf and participate more effectively in their community. Citizenship education is not only important for each of us as citizens. It is also important for those who influence how citizens can participate in educational, Parliamentary, governmental, legal or other services.

This fifth New Zealand edition of the DecisionMaker Guide to Parliament and Government coincides with the build-up to the 150th anniversary of the the New Zealand Parliament. DecisionMaker Publications has been enabled by Parliamentary Service to publish the core content of these print, cd-rom and online editions — with funding, content, ideas and links to other information providers. Supplementary resources enabled us to expand understanding of how government works, thanks to the profiles, case studies and briefings provided for these editions — and our quarterly DecisionMaker guides and policy forums. Each DecisionMaker Guide to Parliament and Government, since Asia Pacific Economic News developed the titles in consultation with New Zealand‘s Parliamentary Service in 1990, has incorporated innovations. The 2000 edition, for example, introduced The Big Picture to support an embryonic whole-of-government approach.

The funding structure provided for this edition has allowed DecisionMaker Publications to build on these foundations, providing more public-good content and a coherent structure. The 2003 DecisionMaker Citizenship Education Directory, one of the magazines that make up this composite DecisionMaker Guide to Parliament and Government, draws together information from a number of sources to provide a list of contact details for services useful to those exercising the rights of citizenship. The Directory, like all DecisionMaker publications, will be available online – on and, with enhanced accessibility in Australia, the Pacific and beyond – but will also be reprinted from time to time. While we have embraced the new technology, we recognise the value of a traditional book. It's cheap, it's portable, it requires no power, and readers can refer between multiple pages without needing a three-metre screen.

Whether in print or on-line, DecisionMaker Publications is committed to the view that information is not in itself knowledge, but only a resource from which knowledge can be extracted. Electronic search engines allow those in the know to find information they're looking for; publications such as ours allow people to discover both knowledge that they need (whether or not they were looking) and its relevance and context.

The next DecisionMaker quarterly (second quarter, 2003), for example, is both a guide to and policy forum on How participation works – incorporating perspectives on best New Zealand and international practice in citizenship education. It reaches out to public servants, offering a professional development resource that helps them provide integrated government for new settlers and other citizens.

With its 2003 editions, DecisionMaker continues to improve its publishing service with its partners, and facilitates the development of policy planning to improve citizenship education in schools and communities – sharing experience with New Zealand and international best practice.

By Anthony Haas, publisher and interviewer, and Judy Knighton, publications developer and editor. © Asia Pacific Economic News Ltd.

Picture shows Parliament buildings and grounds.