New Zealand’s holistic education model for the future

December 06, 2017 | 14:48
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In the 4.0 age, while many countries are still discussing what Industry 4.0 will entail, New Zealand has been preparing its education system to fully leverage the opportunities on offer.

Grant McPherson, CEO of Education New Zealand

The beginning 4th Industrial Revolution will re-position global economies, increasing competition between countries. Ultimately, countries’ ability to navigate the “technological twist” of the 21st century will largely depend on their education systems.

Grant McPherson, CEO of Education New Zealand, joined the APEC University Leaders’ Forum held on the sidelines of the APEC Summit 2017 in early November in the central city of Danang and discussed New Zealand’s holistic and sustainable education model built to prepare students for impending global changes.

Themed “Industry 4.0,” the APEC University Leaders’ Forum addressed the challenges facing education in the region. The forum specifically focused on how different education systems around the world are preparing their students for the digital age.

Technology plays an integral role in New Zealand’s education system

Introducing New Zealand's innovative education model, McPherson highlighted how the country’s education system is built upon a world-class education quality assurance system. Moreover, the country’s “Think New” approach is credited with promoting inquisitive and project-based learning while also providing flexible learning pathways for students.

According to McPherson, collaboration between education institutions, accompanied with exposure to different cultures and perspectives, also allow graduates to collect internationally-recognised qualifications alongside industry-relevant skills.

“To effectively prepare students for an increasingly connected world, education systems must also welcome global perspectives. New Zealand has championed this cause, becoming a sought-after international education destination, attracting more than 131,000 international students from more than 180 countries,” said McPherson.

Such focused efforts have resulted in several New Zealand universities being included in the QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2017 list, which ranks 300 leading global institutions based on five key aspects of graduate employability.

Besides, New Zealand has also championed digital technology plays in its curriculum. The government has invested $700 million in technology infrastructure and professional learning, while 98 per cent of New Zealand’s institutes are connected to high-speed internet. This cyber system is available for every teacher and student, changing the way students approach lessons, the methods of teaching and learning, and enables students to become more tech-savvy.

Furthermore, in New Zealand, the national curriculum focuses on 21st century learning, ensuring learners are equipped to participate in and contribute to their own society and the wider world. An important focus is set on encouraging students to consider significant future-focused issues, such as sustainability. It requires teaching and learning approaches that draw on all elements of effective pedagogy and focuses on empowering students to take action for a sustainable future.

McPherson said: “Sustainability is a critical issue for New Zealand—environmentally, economically, culturally, politically, and socially. We need to learn how to live smarter to reduce our impact on the environment for future generations.”

This comprehensive educational model has resulted in New Zealand's education system being ranked among the world's best for delivering a future-focused education, according to the Educating for the Future Index 2017 of the Economist Intelligence Unit.

Education New Zealand (ENZ) is New Zealand’s government agency for international education. ENZ works to grow awareness of New Zealand as a study destination and to support New Zealand education providers and businesses to take their services and products abroad.

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