Developing a discerning population

PPTA Leadership Summit 2022 at Te Pae Christchurch

Secondary teachers have a vital role to play in steering students away from violent extremism

Critical thinking is a crucial element towards reducing violent extremism and secondary teachers’ role is vital, Rebecca Kitteridge, Director of the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (SIS) told participants at the recent PPTA Te Wehengarua National Leadership Summit.

“Having a discerning population will make Aotearoa New Zealand a safer place and the contribution from the education sector will be formational in addressing disinformation.”

Concerning trend in violent extremism

Ms Kitteridge said violent extremists were getting younger. “The SIS is aware of school-aged children who are accessing violent extremist information online. Teenagers still represent a small miniority in our surveillance but I am concerned about the trend.”

The SIS has produced a guide, Know the Signs, to help people identify signs that someone might be planning a terrorist attack. “We need help to identify serious aspiring terrorists and we want to work with schools, in particular. People hide their identities and share information about violent extremism widely through gaming and young people are a massive audience.”

Saunoamaali’i Dr Karanina Sumeo, Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner for the Human Rights Commission, told the summit she was concerned about the number of young people whom schools had lost due to COVID-19. “Hardship has really hit some of our communities and young people have had to leave school and go to work out of necessity.” She said her office was working with agencies such as the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, encouraging employers to look out for these young people and help them continue with their education and qualifications.

Education the weapon of today

Ngai Tahu leader Sir Mark Solomon implored summit participants to ‘lift our game in the way that we upskill our children. We need to lift their aspirations. Education is the weapon of today – it is the weapon of love you give your children and your family.”

Hana O’Regan, tumu whakarae (chief excecutive) of CORE education consultancy told the summit that as a country we need to know and understand our story of inequity. “Discussing equity and identifying inequity is hard because it takes us into uncomfortable spaces. We need to more deeply understand the historical experiences of iwi and whānau in our local communities. Do you know what it is like to be Māori in your school, community, neighbourhood, local dairy, local swimming pool?”

Historic education inequities deliberate

The historic inequities in the education sector are deliberate and are there by design, she said. “All early Māori academics came from one school because the headmaster, John Thornton, knew what the boys needed to study in order to go to university. However, he was ousted because the government wanted him to abandon his academic curriculum and teach agriculture instead.”

Schools needed to do three things to achieve equitable education outcomes: have more culturally responsive teachers; have more Māori representation in the curriculum; and end streaming.

The Minister of Education, Hon. Chris Hipkins, thanked the sector for rising to meet the phenomenal challenge of the pandemic over the last two and a half years.  “COVID continues to pose challenges and the degree of unity we had early on doesn’t exist anymore.  We have left some aspects of the COVID response to the leadership of schools to decide for themselves. As a government we have decided to place a lot more trust in the profession to do the right thing.”

More than 200 people attended the summit, held from 13-15 July, at Te Pae, the new convention centre in Christchurch

Last modified on Tuesday, 13 September 2022 12:09