Even though many high schools in New Zealand have established formal relationships with schools in Asia for exchanging information, correspondence, and students, too, “a low frequency of Asian content [is] being taught,” says a recent report.
New Zealand’s high school teachers generally lack confidence in teaching about Asia, a topic included in the national curriculum. In surveys and focus groups, teachers cited a lack of professional development and instructional materials as barriers to offering lessons on the region.
“Research on Studies of Asia in New Zealand Secondary Schools” is available from the Asia New Zealand Foundation.
The report was commissioned by the Asia New Zealand Foundation, an education organization in Wellington and Auckland.
“Studies of Asia are taught infrequently and haphazardly in New Zealand schools, often through disaster and conflict-related topics, and teachers feel ill-prepared to teach Asian topics without the benefit of more resources and professional development,” Pamela Barton, the foundation’s director of education, wrote in an e-mail.
“It’s important to address this issue because New Zealand’s future lies in the Asian region,” she said.
The study found that teachers’ knowledge of Asia is limited, and that many have not received training or other support to better prepare them to teach about the region. Most of the respondents, however, believed that Asia studies are important for preparing students for a global society.
A version of this article appeared in the February 22, 2006 edition of Education Week