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Kiwi kids get their say

Sarah Putt, Contributor. 26 February 2019, 8:15 am

A mini-census of New Zealand children is due to take place over the next four months, as the CensusAtSchool or TataurangaKiTeKura Aotearoa survey kicks off from March 4. Organisers say it is the only national survey that polls children on their views of their own lives.

Co-directors of the survey are Professor Chris Wild from the University of Auckland's Department of Statistics and former lecturer in Statistics Rachel Cunliffe. This is the ninth year the biennial survey has taken place and this year 1100 teachers from 600 schools have registered to take part. There is expected to be around 30,000 children in years 5 - 13 (aged between 9 and 18) participating in the survey, in which they anonymously answer questions in English or te reo Māori on digital devices.

CensusAtSchool is carried out in Australia, UK, Canada, US, Japan and South Africa and is part of an international effort to boost statistical capability among young people. The objectives outlined on the website are as follows:

  1. foster a positive attitude to statistics through using data that is both relevant and real
  2. improve understanding of a data gathering process, its purposes and benefits to society
  3. provide classes with access to large and meaningful multivariate data sets
  4. encourage effective IT teaching and learning
  5. enhance the process of statistical enquiry across the curriculum

There are strict conditions around the use of data, which is protected by copyright laws, and which is only provided for the purposes of teaching and learning. Data is anonymous, confidential and securely stored by the CensusAtSchool, and the Ministry of Education, Statistics New Zealand and other third parties do not have access to the full database. "Class data is returned to the teachers to use for class activities. The nationwide database will be available for sampling from, and for viewing summary statistics on the CensusAtSchool NZ and CensusAtSchool international websites."

So, what kind of questions will the students be asked?

It's a mix of opinion, fact and feelings. In addition to the usual identifying questions (which include if you are right-handed, left-handed or ambidextrous), there are questions about how they get to school, how much time they spend looking at a screen, and what their favourite video game is.

The social media account question was interesting in that it shows what sites this demographic is interested in - Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit and YouTube. No mention of Twitter or LinkedIn for this crowd!

Students are also polled on their attitudes to social media, and asked their opinions on alcohol and drug use, as well as climate change.

The survey is open until July 5, and you can check out more information here.


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