IITP welcomes science and tech strategy, calls for new Digital Learning Area in schools
The Institute of IT Professionals (IITP) welcomes the Government's announcement this week of a new science and technology strategic plan, in particular the commitment to review the positioning and content of Digital Technologies within the New Zealand Curriculum. The IITP also calls for major transformation to how computing is taught and resourced in schools.
Ministers Steven Joyce and Hekia Parata released A Nation of Curious Minds: A National Strategic Plan for Science in Society, which outlines a series of initiatives to increase the science and technology focus of New Zealand, including within the school system.
"We welcome this strategy, and in particular the Government responding to the call to review the positioning and content of digital technology within the New Zealand Curriculum," says IITP Chief Executive Paul Matthews. "This is big news for our sector."
Digital Technologies, which is what ICT-related topics are called within schools, currently resides in the Technology Learning Area alongside less academic subjects such as Food Technology, Hard Materials (previously derived from Woodwork and Metalwork), and others.
"Today's learners leave school into a digital world", Matthews says. "It's the job of the education system to prepare every learner to succeed, and from a tech perspective we very much look forward to this review moving Digital Technologies into a better place. We've sought this review and it's great that the Government is responding."
"We believe it's time to finish the job of transforming ICT education in schools by exploring establishing a new Digital Sciences Learning Area, a move the IT industry wholeheartedly supports", Matthews said. "We've today released a short background document to our community outlining the current situation and one possible future model."
The Institute also welcomed other aspects of the strategy, including a greater focus on teacher resourcing and professional development.
"The strategy signals a greater focus on technology in both initial teacher education and ongoing professional learning and development," Matthews said. "This is a very welcome commitment. Teachers felt under-resourced during the introduction of the Digital Technologies Achievement Standards and it's excellent this is being addressed, as is teacher training."
Employment statistics show that ICT-related skills are in significant and increasing demand. "ICT is where the jobs are," Matthews said "and we need to ensure New Zealand is on an equal or better footing with countries such as the UK and Australia who are also significantly increasing their focus on computing education in schools".
"The focus on promoting technology careers, and in particular increasing girls' participation in science and ICT, is great news." Matthews said.
The Institute also welcomed the commitment from Government to work with professional bodies in the sector on these changes. "All in all, this is a very positive strategy. IITP stands ready to continue working with the Government and the Ministry to plot the best path forwards for ICT."
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