‘Hands-off education’ for the poor and working class
An online education course, taught by students from the low-income community in Auckland, is teaching New Zealanders how to read, write and write well and help them learn more.
The online course, called Hands-Off Education, will be offered for free in Auckland at the end of the month and is part of a wider initiative by the government to address literacy challenges faced by New Zealand.
New Zealand has long struggled with a poor literacy rate and, while there are currently over 2 million people living in poverty in the country, the rate is expected to increase to over 2.5 million by 2030.
Many people do not have access to a computer or the internet, which can make learning difficult.
The Hand-Off Course aims to provide access to the tools that New Zealand needs to effectively teach people how to write, read and write effectively.
“It’s about giving people the skills they need to succeed in a new and challenging economy and it’s a challenge that we are all part of,” education minister Karen Buck said.
The course is also aimed at teaching students the skills of the English language, but also to introduce people to writing in other languages.
The programme was launched last year and the curriculum includes a video-recorded course that will be delivered in English and a text-based book to help people learn to write in a variety of languages.
“This is a first-of-its-kind program in New Zealand, aimed at helping New Zealand’s poorest students to become more literate,” Ms Buck said in a statement.
“We’ve got more than 1.4 million New Zealand residents living in the bottom 20 per cent of the income distribution and more than half of our students do not speak the native language.”
A group of academics from Auckland University’s School of Digital Media and Digital Media have also been involved in the programme.
Ms Buck told Al Jazeera that the course is “about a person’s journey of learning to write and read, but we’re trying to create a framework to help them develop that ability”.
“The challenge is getting them to be able to do that in a way that doesn’t feel like a struggle, but rather a natural, empowering and rewarding experience,” she said.
“The course will take people through the skills needed to write about subjects such as politics, health and food and how they can apply those skills in different contexts.”
The course was originally launched in 2012 but it has since been extended by another four years.
“I think this is something that has a lot of potential,” Ms Burton said.
This new initiative comes after the New Zealand Government announced a new plan last year to create 15 million more jobs by 2020, and has been criticised by the opposition, who claim that the plan will do little to help the country’s growing middle class.
The government says that, compared to the same time last year, the number of jobs created in New York City and Seattle is up almost 400,000, and the number in the US and Germany is up by almost 200,000.
The Government also says it will spend $8 billion on education in 2020.