Monday, August 12, 2013

Inequality in New Zealand

I have now been involved in teaching within the secondary school system for over 20 years. It is becoming increasingly apparent to me the emerging gulf between those on lower incomes and those very wealthy. I have witnessed student unable to attend trips or take up opportunities that others get purely because they can't afford it. I also know how many sacrifices some families make to enable their child to afford the schooling that should be of right, free. It is with a growing sense of injustice about this situation that has lead our school to be looking at ways to develop a sizeable fund to help those in need - so they don't miss out just because they are not able to afford it. We are hoping to develop a fund that businesses and alumni can feed into and that can support students to access opportunities they otherwise couldn't afford. Interestingly, a recent Ministry of Education circular stresses the fact that learning opportunities for students should not be withheld if students cannot afford to take them up (see circular here). I completely agree, yet the implications for schools and the current ways they operate, is significant. Of course this is all put forward without any significant funding changes by the Government.

I also, therefore look forward to reading my most recent purchase - Inequality in New Zealand edited by Max Rashbrooke. Robert Wade, an author of one of the chapters, discusses the rapid increase of wealth of the rich over the last 30 years and notes The sharp increase in income concentration at the top of national income distributions over recent decades should have prompted a … public debate about the question: ‘When are the rich too rich?’  He has a short interview here.

There is growing debate around inequality with respect to education and I look forward to being involved in these discussions and debates.  

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