Hastings district councillor Jacoby Poulain wants people to be more aware that the structures and systems implemented by the government have phenomenal impacts upon education and, correspondingly, people’s lives.

I quit high school. Some know this about me, others don’t.

I started wagging – aka not showing up. It started slowly – a day here, a day there, increasing to a week here and a week there.

Ultimately, after 18 months of this, I called it quits in what should have been my final year of secondary school. I would have done it earlier except they wouldn’t let me.

I had dreams of going to university; instead I went to work full-time at Kentucky Fried Chicken.

The reason for my demise stemmed from the fact that I was becoming politically aware. I became aware that I was stuck in an education system that discriminated against me. I got all sorts of despondent and dropped out.

When I went to school, examinations results were scaled. The system was essentially designed and manipulated so that half the country’s kids passed, and went on to university, and the other half failed by having their scores manipulated or “scaled” back.

The “failing” students were then funnelled to take up trades – the area the bureaucrats identified as having a future skill shortage.

Lower high school scores would secure entry to polytechnics that taught trades but not universities that taught degrees. No prize for guessing which schools and children in society were targeted to go which way.

The consequence of this policy direction for me was I simply dropped out in protest at the injustice of it and the futility of engaging further in a system that prevented me from achieving (by manipulating my test grades and restricting high grades available to me), though I was capable and would have earned a much higher grade for the very same work had I been at a higher decile school across town.

Thankfully, I eventually found good support that helped to pull me back into the education arena and I went on to complete university successfully (I had to go to polytechnic first to get entry to university).

Currently we have an election looming, with political parties espousing all sorts of political agendas and policies. Lately education has come to the forefront.

The point of this article is simply to raise awareness that the structures and systems that our government implements have phenomenal impacts on education and, correspondingly, people’s lives.

Society is nothing more than an aggregate or collective of individual lives, therefore these education policies and practices can and do have dramatic effects upon the fabric and results of our people and our nation.

In my example, the child was the same but the system determined their results.

Scaling may no longer exist; however, other structural issues do. For example, we still don’t assess the academic progress of primary school children in New Zealand. This disproportionately affects those failing i.e. low socio-economic . . . can’t read + can’t write + no-one identifies it = road to jail … glad to see National dealing with this.

The cost of tertiary education = another structural barrier . . . brilliant to see Labour addressing this.

It’s helpful also to see the Greens advocating for those who need more targeted help and great to see TOP advocating for investment into early childhood.

Regardless of where people stand on the political spectrum, education in our nation is a critical issue, I believe, that needs revamping and intense scrutiny. I’m heartened to see the political spotlight put on it in this election.

  • Hastings district councillor Jacoby Poulain is also a board member on the Hawke’s Bay District Health Board and is on the EIT Council.

Source: Hawke’s Bay Today


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