Minister stresses importance of ethnic people having say in future of New Zealand education

Hon Jenny Salesa, the Minister for Ethnic Communities (Left) and Cathleen Wang (right) year 10 student from Burnside High School

A meeting about the involvement of ethnic communities in the future of New Zealand’s education system has been hailed as a success by the Office of Ethnic Communities.

The meeting, held in Christchurch, is part of the Ministry of Education’s nationwide series of consultations with ethnic communities. Over 100 people from more than 20 ethnic groups attended.

Hon Jenny Salesa, Minister for Ethnic Communities and Associate Minister for Education, who attended the meeting, stressed the importance of ethnic people having their say in shaping education in New Zealand’s.

As well as community leaders a children’s group were well represented by students from local primary or secondary schools. They engaged in the group discussion and shared their ideas about what a successful education system looks like.

Here are a few comments from stakeholders on how they found the consultation.

I like to see more cultural diversity in my school. I am now part of a project team that works on organising an international cultural day to celebrate different cultures existing in the school. This is a good way for all of us to learn from each other and value each other” - Makayla Dai, Head Girl 2018, Merrin Primary School

“I am so excited to be invited and so happy to be able to talk to the Minister about my ideas. She was listening to me and encouraging me to have my voice heard. Last night, I actually prepared myself by writing the thoughts down on a piece of paper so that I am able to share with others. Guess what, the group facilitator collected it and said they will pass my feedback onto the Ministry” – Cathleen Wang, year 10 student, Burnside High School.

“Ethnic people need such conversations on the theme of education which everyone cares about so much. It allows people – adults, children, youth, employers – to contribute ideas and opinions about New Zealand’s education system with a view to build a better future. The meeting was successful, productive and important to us. And leaders from ethnic communities are willing to make significant contributions to educational policies to reflect on diversity and inclusion” – Dr Surinder Tandon, MNZM President, Christchurch Multicultural Council.

Coralanne Child, Director of Education for Canterbury, also attended the meeting and spent her time talking to participants and joining discussion with different groups.

The meeting was facilitated by a diverse group of long-standing Office of Ethnic Communities stakeholders. They played a role in bringing together participants and making sure the conversation went smoothly. Some of the key themes that emerged from group discussions included the need for more collaborations among schools, families and communities towards making learning and teaching more meaningful, and supporting students to become more globally focused in terms of future study.