Indigenous Peoples' Rights   |   Human Rights

Submissions: Education Curriculum
and the Treaty of Waitangi


This is a reminder that it is not too late to make a submission - as brief or as long as you like - on the draft Ministry of Education Curriculum document. The deadline for submissions is the end of the day, Thursday, 30 November.

This message is focused on the deletion of the Treaty of Waitangi from the Principles section of the draft Curriculum and the one less than meaningful mention of the Treaty in the entire draft, and includes some points about that which you could include in a brief submission if you wish. There is also a section with some resources on other concerns about the draft, and a section with links to the draft Curriculum documents.

The easiest way to submit your comments on the draft Curriculum is via the online feedback form or, if you find that what you want to say does not fit into the formula there, then you can email your comments (as text in the body of the message, or as an attachment is fine) email. If you are going to email your comments, there is some information that you need to provide for your submission to be taken into consideration, for details see section 4 below 'Submitting your comments'.

Apologies for the lateness of this reminder, a consequence of computer malfunction and ISP failure over the past week. Thank you to everyone who assisted with putting this information together.


1) The Treaty of Waitangi, te reo Maori, and the draft Curriculum

The Curriculum Draft signals the direction the Ministry of Education intends schools to be taking in their teaching and learning programmes. It also sets out the Government's expectations of what school students should be able to achieve by the time they leave school.

The main document 'The New Zealand Curriculum: Draft for consultation 2006' has no reference to the Treaty; the only reference is in the Social Sciences Achievement Outcomes document under Social Studies, Level five - "the Treaty of Waitangi is responded to differently by people in different times and places". [1]

  • points you could make: this is a totally inadequate way to include the Treaty, which is after all central to the past, present and future of this country, in the national education Curriculum. While that statement may have a certain validity in some contexts, it appears to deny the fact that the text of the Treaty remains unchanged, that it is primarily the Crown and successive governments that have chosen to "respond to it differently" through time, and also the particular place of treaties in international law.

When questioned by Dr Pita Sharples in parliament about the removal of the Treaty from the Curriculum, Steve Maharey (Minister of Education) denied it had been removed, and said "it will be embodied in a Maori version of the curriculum next year." [2]

  • points you could make: the Treaty is crucial for all New Zealanders (to borrow a phrase from government spokespeople), it is clearly not something that is important only for Maori.

In contrast to the draft Curriculum, the current Curriculum Framework states:

"The New Zealand Curriculum recognises the significance of the Treaty of Waitangi. The school curriculum will recognise and value the unique position of Maori in New Zealand society. All students will have the opportunity to acquire some knowledge of Maori language and culture. Students will also have the opportunity to learn through te reo and nga tikanga Maori. The school curriculum will acknowledge the importance to all New Zealanders of both Maori and Pakeha traditions, histories, and values." [3]

The NZEI has pointed out that:

"The area of greatest difference between the curriculum framework and the curriculum draft documents relates to the statements about New Zealand's identity. New Zealand's genesis as a country in its present form relates to a country forged on an agreed relationship between two sovereign peoples. The nature of this relationship is spelled out in the Treaty of Waitangi. While there is debate about versions and interpretation of the Treaty, the essence of the Treaty, as the document in which the ongoing nature of that relationship is articulated, has been broadly acknowledged in New Zealand. It is also widely recognised as having an important place in the development of pathways forward for our country." [4]

Furthermore, Te Whariki / the Early Childhood Curriculum has very specific references to how this can be put into practice, for example:

"Adults working with children should understand and be willing to discuss bicultural issues, actively seek Maori contributions to decision making, and ensure that Maori children develop a strong sense of self-worth." (40) "New Zealand is the home of Maori language and culture: curriculum in early childhood settings should promote te reo and nga tikanga Maori, making them visible and affirming their value for children from all cultural backgrounds." (42) "The curriculum should include Maori people, places, and artifacts and opportunities to learn and use the Maori language through social interaction." (43) "Appropriate connections with iwi and hapu should be established, and staff should support tikanga Maori and the use of the Maori language." (55) "The use of the Maori language and creative arts in the programme should be encouraged, and staff should be supported in learning the language and in understanding issues relating to being bilingual." (73) [5]

  • points you could make: the draft Curriculum needs major changes with regard to the Treaty, it must be incorporated throughout. As an absolute minimum, the statement from the existing Curriculum Framework must be included in the draft; the new Curriculum should be a carefully considered follow on from Te Whariki and include detail such as is found in that document.

In the same way as the draft Curriculum minimises the place of the Treaty and apparently is to embody it only in "a Maori version of the curriculum next year", so too it seems Maori perspectives and values are to be restricted to Maori. For example, the Principles [6] section states: "Students who identify as Maori have the opportunity to experience a curriculum that reflects and values te ao Maori." Furthermore, while the Learning Languages [7] section states: "Te reo Maori is unique to new Zealand and is a source of our nation's self-knowledge and identity", English is the only language given precedence in the draft Curriculum, and te reo Maori seems consigned to the status of any other language.

Even worse, in the same paragraph as the quote above, there is this statement: "Classical languages provide access to the origins of thought and civilisations" - what an astounding display of monocultural arrogance.

  • points you could make: te reo Maori is not only an officially recognised, but is indeed the first, language of this country. All students must have access to a curriculum that reflects and values te ao Maori; and the official status of te reo must be demonstrated by giving it practical, rather than merely lip service, importance in the education system.


2) Some other concerns about the draft Curriculum

  • The lack of a coherent approach to human rights education - see for example the Human Rights Commission media release and 'The New Zealand Curriculum Draft for Consultation 2006: Human Rights Issues' (this also includes comment about the Treaty and the Curriculum). Please note: if you are using this document as a basis for your comments, the references to the 'International Convention on Civil and Political Rights' should read 'International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights', and the references to the 'UN Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights' should read 'International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights'.

  • The entrepreneurial and economic focus given prominence in the Vision and elsewhere in the draft Curriculum - see for example 'Cunning coded curriculum', John Minto, Chair of the Quality Public Education Coalition (QPEC), 20 November 2006 and the QPEC leaflet.

  • The removal of values such as those specified in the existing Curriculum which includes the following: "The school curriculum, through its practices and procedures, will reinforce the commonly held values of individual and collective responsibility which underpin New Zealand's democratic society. These values include honesty, reliability, respect for others, respect for the law, tolerance (rangimarie), fairness, caring or compassion (aroha), non-sexism, and non-racism." [8] See for example the questions by Te Ururoa Flavell in parliament on 1 August 2006 [9] which also includes comment on the Treaty and the Curriculum.


    3) Links to draft Curriculum documents

  • The index page for the 'The New Zealand Curriculum Framework' (ie, the current Curriculum)

  • The main index page for the draft Curriculum, associated documents, and a link to the feedback form

  • The main document 'The New Zealand Curriculum: Draft for consultation 2006'

  • Other documents: Arts - index page and achievement outcomes; English - index page and achievement outcomes; Health and physical education - index page and achievement outcomes; Learning languages - index page and achievement outcomes; Marautanga o Aotearoa - index page; Mathematics and statistics - index page and achievement outcomes; Science - index page and achievement outcomes; Social sciences - index page and achievement outcomes; Technology - index page and achievement outcomes.


    4) Submitting your comments

    The easiest way to submit your comments on the draft Curriculum is via the online feedback form or you can email your comments (as text in the body of the message, or as an attachment is fine) email. If you are going to email your comments you need to provide this information for your submission to be taken into consideration:

  • Institution: If your interest in education is mainly linked to: a particular school, please include: School name and School location (suburb, town, city). What type of school is this? Please select the most appropriate: Contributing school (Y16), Primary school (Y18), Intermediate school (Y78), Area school (Y113), Secondary school (Y713), Secondary school (Y913), Not applicable; or an educational institution of a type not included above, please state type (for example, polytechnic).

    Contributors: Are you completing this feedback form:

  • as an individual? If so, please select the one description on this list that best describes your role - Parent/caregiver, Family or whanau member (other than parent/caregiver), Principal, Teacher, School student, Board of Trustees member, Teacher educator (pre-service), Teacher educator (in-service), Other (please state role or describe interest); or

  • on behalf of a group? If so, how many people have had input into this feedback? Please select as many descriptions as apply to the members of the group providing feedback: Parent/caregiver, Family or whanau member (other than parent/caregiver), Principal, Teacher, School student, Board of Trustees member, Teacher educator (pre-service), Teacher educator (in-service), Other (please state role or describe interest).


    References

    [1] http://www.tki.org.nz/r/nzcurriculum/pdfs/table-social-sciences.pdf

    [2] http://www.hansard.parliament.govt.nz/Documents/20060912.htm#_Toc145844531

    [3] http://www.tki.org.nz/r/governance/nzcf/principles_e.php

    [4] NZEI Special Circular 2006/27, p14 http://www.nzei.org.nz/archive/special_circulars/documents/2006SpecialCircular27.doc

    [5] http://www.minedu.govt.nz/web/downloadable/dl3567_v1/whariki.pdf

    [6] The New Zealand Curriculum: Draft for consultation 2006, p9, http://www.tki.org.nz/r/nzcurriculum/pdfs/curriculum-framework-draft.pdf

    [7] The New Zealand Curriculum: Draft for consultation 2006, p18, http://www.tki.org.nz/r/nzcurriculum/pdfs/curriculum-framework-draft.pdf

    [8] http://www.tki.org.nz/r/governance/nzcf/attitudes_e.php

    [9] http://www.hansard.parliament.govt.nz/Documents/20060801.htm#_Toc142217487


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