2019-05-29 06:01:55

New Zealand teachers on strike

By Fiona Boyd
As Co-Founder and CEO of EdSmart, Fiona is passionate about using technology to empower relationships and a greater good, with a focus on helping educators, parents and students worldwide. She began her career as a radio broadcaster and was Co-Founder of ArtsHub, the leading online home for arts and cultural workers in Australia, New Zealand and the UK. She was featured in the book 50 Great eBusinesses and the Minds Behind Them (Random House 2007). Fiona is also a long-time runner and mother of three.

Fifty thousand New Zealand school teachers are out on strike today, and their reasons aren’t just about wages and earning more; a large portion of their grievances concerns working conditions.

As reported in today’s The Guardian, this is the largest walkout of teachers ever in the country. Key issues for teachers in the government system, which accounts for most schools in New Zealand, includes:

  • Class sizes;
  • Being bogged down with excessive paperwork;
  • Not enough funding for special needs students.

Points one and three are issues that must be solved with better policy decisions and increased funding. The Education Minister has warned that more funding is unlikely.

But, the point I’d like to make is that burnout, stress and the overwhelming of teachers has been on the rise for some time. This is one of the reasons my team at EdSmart, which comprise some former teachers wanting to be part of the solution, are intent on reducing paperwork for teachers (and parents too, by the way).

This is not a problem just for New Zealand. Research in Australia last year also found evidence that teachers were disenchanted and struggling with ever-increasing paperwork demands.

The UK underwent a nationwide research project into the teaching profession in recent years and the findings were similar - teachers are spending much of their time on paperwork and compliance, which is taking them away from teaching.

Administrative paperwork is something that can now go completely digital. The NZ Ministry of Education, and other government MOE’s worldwide, need to look at and deploy systems that make compliance and other paperwork an easy, quick, digital experience.

Teachers and the quality of their work-lives is at stake here.

We’re past the point of access being an issue. Every teacher we talk to has a mobile phone, access to a laptop or other mobile device like an iPad. With access to a digital system that can be then be accessed by these devices, compliance and paperwork should be easy and no fuss.

Teachers enter their profession to teach. Many are inspired and excited to show a new generation how to fall in love with learning and knowledge.

Isn’t it time we supported them in that desire?

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