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An Open Letter to the Minister of Education, Hekia Parata

Paul Brislen, Editor. 11 July 2016, 6:00 am

Dear Hon Hekia Parata,

We acknowledge your announcement last week of modest changes to the Digital Technology curriculum for New Zealand schools, following a long review period. This review presented a huge opportunity for the future of New Zealand and the success of our children. However, we believe that the fundamental problems with this subject have not been addressed. Consequently, unless your Ministry takes a bolder stance, our children will continue to be educationally disadvantaged and under-skilled for high paying tech jobs. In addition, tech sector growth will continue to be hindered and we will become increasingly reliant on immigration for technical staff.

As has been highlighted on many occasions, the root cause of the problem is that Digital Technology is taught as a non- academic vocational subject alongside woodwork, metalwork, cookery and sewing. This situation has to change if we are to attract academic and skilled students into an industry that is already a signi cant driver of our country's economic growth. The rst essential change is that Digital Technology has to be separated from these vocational subjects and become a standalone subject of signi cance, on a par with maths and science. Our secondary school students should be presented with an academic option developing their ability to understand computer logic, code and design.

There were many excellent recommendations to come out of the 12-month review in 2015 that was carried out by the Ministry of Education, Industry, educationalists and others such as the Institute of IT Professionals, but adoption of these recommendations has mostly been ignored.
In today's world, technical and digital literacy is of equal importance to English literacy and it is essential that progress be made in the way we educate and prepare our children.

It has taken six years to get to this point, including a 12-month review and a further seven months of deliberations. Minister Parata, how much longer do our children have to wait?
Time is of the essence as the pace of technological change accelerates every day. Every month we deliberate, every year we spend on reviews, results in another group of children missing out. We are writing not only as members of the tech community, but also as parents. We ask that you treat this matter with urgency. It is too important for our children, our industry and the future success of our nation. 

Signed

Ian McCrae Founder & CEO Orion Health

Frances Valintine Founder & Chair The Mind Lab

Ian Taylor
Founder & CEO Animation Research 


Comments

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Adrien Borrie 11 July 2016, 2:11 pm

I heartily concur with the sentiment of this letter. The time has passed to prevaricate, act now to set up academic curricula for Term 1 2017

David Lane 12 July 2016, 11:54 am

The Min of Ed needs to recognise that it isn't equipped to solve the problem of digital education. It needs to form an advisory board of actual people with technical experience and understanding in NZ to advise them periodically, and assist them with strategic direction... And then it needs to listen to them (and do what they say).

Paul Matthews 12 July 2016, 11:56 am

They did the first part, for the third time in the last decade. Unfortunately, also for the third time, they didn't do the second part.


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