Education for Māori: Implementing Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success.

Ngā tapuwae o mua, mo muri

Footsteps of the past, to guide the future

Recent developments in the socio-educational landscape, the economic uncertainty of the times, the rapidly changing demographics of the school-aged populations, and the concerns expressed about the many social problems affecting young people have reignited the discussions over the roles schools are expected to play in preparing young people for productive futures.

These concerns were the drivers of the Auditor-General's parliamentary paper (2012) in which we declared that research shows that people of indigenous cultures are more likely to experience the enduring effect of educational inequities.

This audit takes a more affirmative position by seeking to determine how well the education system currently supports Māori students to achieve their full potential so as to enable them to contribute to the future prosperity of New Zealand. The country's future is linked to the achievements of today's students.

The Māori Advisory and Reference Group (the Advisory Group) acknowledged that by introducing its national strategy for Māori education, Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success, in 2008, the Government recognised the need to improve the achievement outcomes for Māori students. The Ministry of Education noted that the overarching strategic intent of Ka Hikitia is "Māori enjoying educational success as Māori".

The Advisory Group contends that there may have been flaws in terms of the rollout of Ka Hikitia and that describing Māori success to educators could have been more articulate and definitive. We conceded, however, that it is not a straightforward task because success (for Māori) is not derived from simply teaching students the content of a curriculum or satisfying the requirements of a national assessment unit. We saw success as "mana-tangata" or "person-making", with the education system providing a more agentic role in this regard. In our view, such provision allows for and meets students' individual needs, gives them access to learning, and ultimately works towards students' taking control of their own learning because of growth in the areas of culture, language, identity, literacy, numeracy, relationships, and motivation.

A key observation that this report makes is that of the pivotal role of the education system itself. An effective education system will learn from its performance and use the information to make changes. We encourage the system to be earnest in the collection and analyses of data and to apply the information so as to make changes that will improve the likelihood of Māori enjoying success in its many forms – academic, social, creative – a range from astrophysics to kapahaka.

The Advisory Group valued student voices in terms of their being discerning consumers of education. We also placed considerable emphasis on the variable of linking the culture of home and school. Often these two entities are literally worlds apart. Blame for a lack of success often switches back and forth between the school and the family environment. The abiding constants of many education systems in the world – equality of opportunity and meritocracy – favour one sector of society over another. Ka Hikitia in its refreshed form, Ka Hikitia – Accelerating Success, must be intent on breaking down these barriers by recognising the richness that whānau have to offer schools, and knowing that, in order to draw them in, schools must first reach out.

We believe that the whakataukī above is an encapsulation of the thrust of this report. We are grateful for the opportunity to make a contribution and commend those from the Office of the Auditor-General who are co-ordinating this work.

Mere Berryman
Lorraine Kerr
Angus Hikairo Macfarlane
Wally Penetito
Graham Hingangaroa Smith

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