Re: Submission on Dismantling barriers to NCEA
Dear members of the ministerial advisory group,
We welcome this opportunity to contribute to your review of the National Certificate of Educational Performance (NCEA) so that it can benefit all pupils in New Zealand.
Human Rights Watch is an independent, non-governmental human rights organization that monitors and reports on human rights in more than 90 countries worldwide. One of our areas of interest is the right to education.
Human Rights Watch investigated students' access to qualitative, inclusive and free education in New Zealand at 33 high schools, ranging from decile 1 to decile 8 from August to November 2017. We focused on the impact of the Commission fees and other school-related costs on secondary students & equal access to education. We hope that our findings can inform you of the assessment of "Big Opportunity 6: Dismantling Obstacles for NCEA".
Human Rights Watch found that students whose parents or carers did not pay their fees for the NCEA – 13,867 students in 2016 – their qualifications are withheld, which hampers their future access to work and causes additional stress. (For more information, see Chapters 1 (a) and 1 (b) of the Appendix.)
As deputy director of a school in Deciel 1, he stated: "What whanau or family is willing to do with their money affects children, it is almost as if we are punishing children for what families choose to do."
We welcome your decision to examine this problem and include it as one of six major opportunities as part of the Commission's assessment, and support the proposal to reduce the requirement for students and their families to pay fees from the NCEA. delete. Our research suggests that the identified "additional option" to reduce Commission fees for those seeking financial assistance for $ 0 may be insufficient to remove this barrier to the Commission. As explained in section 1 (c) below, some families who are struggling financially and socially are not always able to complete the financial assistance process. Reducing the fee would also probably not alleviate the current burden on schools for collecting and processing fees from the Commission and financial assistance applications, as described in paragraph 1 (d) below.
Moreover, our research showed that equal access to education for students is influenced by the ability of their parents or caretakers to pay extra school-related costs, such as costs for certain course materials. (For more information, see section 2 below.) We therefore recommend that you recommend that the government ensure that all schools have sufficient funds to cover course-related material. This would also be in line with the recommendation recently made by the United Nations Committee on Economic and Social Rights and Cultural Rights following its review of the human rights situation in New Zealand in this area.
This assessment provides an important opportunity to make a difference in the lives of young pupils in New Zealand by improving access to quality free secondary education for all students and all academic trajectories. We look forward to the results of your consultation.
Financial obstacles to secondary education in New Zealand
Research by Human Rights Watch has shown that non-payment of the costs for the qualification of the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) and other school-related costs by parents or carers have a negative effect on the ability of students to access a free training based on equality opportunity.
All children have the right to access quality education on the basis of equal opportunities in accordance with international human rights legislation to which New Zealand is bound. According to New Zealand law, all domestic students from 5 to 19 years of age are entitled to a free education, except for the charging of costs in connection with taking an exam, making an assessment by the regulatory authority or awarding a prize. certifying passing the exam. The first exception – taking an examination fee into account – directly influences the students' ability to obtain the certificate required for access to further studies and to work. This places the students who are unable to obtain the certificate, despite the fact that they have successfully completed their study and qualification, at a disadvantage compared to other students. Where other school-related costs affect the access of students to courses or the curriculum, there is also a lack of equal access. International human rights law also requires governments to use "all appropriate means" to ensure that secondary education is available and accessible to all students. Human Rights Watch is concerned that non-payment of the costs of the NCEA and some school-related costs contribute to some students not being educated.
Human Rights Watch notes that students on professional trajectories have access to some financial support, particularly through the Youth Guarantee initiatives, which offer 16- to 19-year-olds professionally-oriented courses that provide loans to NCEA level 2 at tertiary providers who are free of and secondary -tertiary programs, which enable students to study more vocational subjects at a high school and obtain credits for their NCEA certificate. We are, however, concerned that this creates inequality between high school students, whose families have to pay their qualifying allowance, and those with a professional trajectory whose qualification is received for free.
From August – November 2017, Human Rights Watch conducted research at officials from 33 secondary schools in rural and urban areas in Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Canterbury, Hawke's Bay, Northland, Otago, Southland, Taranaki, Tasman, Wellington and West Coastal areas. All schools except one were public schools; the other was state-integrated. Schools were mainly selected on the basis of their decile rank and their status as public schools. In some cases schools were referred to us by other schools, educational officials or civil society organizations. We interviewed officials from 19 schools by phone, skype or videoconference and officials from 14 schools sent written answers to a questionnaire sent by e-mail, some of whom answered in writing to further questions. Many schools requested anonymity when this is mentioned in our research. The schools interviewed vary from deciles 1 to 8.
1. Consequences of unpaid costs to students for the Commission and future educational and work opportunities
Human Rights Watch discovered that the fee that students charge to the Commission affects the ability of some students to obtain their NCEA qualification. This prevents students whose parents or carers can not afford to complete their education. We also found that the non-payment of tuition fees gives students stress, that the financial assistance process is a barrier to the payment of allowances for some parents and caregivers, and that the processing of fees and financial assistance is a considerable additional workload for school staff. on top of their teaching tasks.
The 1989 Education Act guarantees "free education at any state school or partner school kura hourua"Between the ages of 5 and 19 for all domestic students, the law also allows the New Zealand qualification authority (NZQA) to charge fees" with regard to sitting for an investigation by the authority, with regard to making an assessment by the authority, or with regard to the granting of any person of an award that declares that the person has passed such an examination or has been judged accordingly. "This provision also states that" costs may not be charged […] to a person who is a student at a relevant school, unless the minister has agreed to charge the fee. "
The NZQA charges domestic students a fee of NZ $ 76.70 per year for all NCEA standards, with a maximum of NZ $ 200 per family with two or more children being candidates. For those entitled to beneficiary or income-based financial assistance, the cost for one child is reduced to NZ $ 20 per child, and when there are two or more children who are candidates, a maximum of NZ $ 30 will be charged per family. In a letter to Human Rights Watch dated 17 August 2017, the NZQA executive, Dr Karen Poutasi, stated that this remuneration contributes to the costs of delivering the Commission each year, including the moderation of internally assessed results, examination costs such as setting and holding examinations and documents and marking. She also stated that the government covers most of the costs of managing the qualification, which she said was about NZ $ 40 million per year. In 2016, parents and carers paid fees for 140,517 domestic students in NCEA levels 1, 2 and 3, which amounted to NZ $ 9.8 million, corresponding to 12 percent of the agency's total budget.
a. Negative consequences of non-payment of costs Disproportionately affect lower socio-economic, Maori and Pasifika children
Students do not receive their NCEA qualification if their parents or health care providers do not pay their fees. According to the NZQA website, NCEA candidates whose fees are not paid are not eligible to transfer their results to the Record of Achievement in New Zealand. This does not qualify them for their NCEA certificates or other national certificates or university input because unpaid results are not on the record of achievement.
The NZQA website states that students must pay this fee. However, in the information on criteria for financial assistance, the "cost payer" is referred to as "usually the parent or guardian of the candidate and he must be the person who pays the NZQA costs." This means that students who are on the NCEA are largely dependent on their parents or carers to pay the compensation. Yet it is the students who suffer if their parents or carers have not paid the compensation.
According to the NZQA, 13,867 students have not formally recorded their results on their Record of Achievement due to unpaid fees in 2016. Similarly, 3 percent of domestic secondary students from 2007-2016 who had at least one secondary enrollment had one or more NCEA qualifications that were not formally awarded due to unpaid compensation.
On the basis of interviews with or written surveys of officials from 33 secondary schools, Human Rights Watch found that students and schools are affected in various ways by the fees charged by the Commission. Not surprisingly, the most affected students were students with a lower socio-economic background. Officials at 15 schools specifically mentioned that people with a lower socio-economic background were the most affected, including single-parent families and families experiencing poverty from different generations.
According to officials from 13 schools in all decile rankings from 1 to 8, Maori and Pasifika students were disproportionately represented among those dealing with the Commission's Examination Board. A school director in an urban area of the South Island reported that of the 49 students who had not paid their allowances in September 2017, 17 (35 percent) were Maori, but that Maori accounts for only 9 to 10 percent of the school population.
Human Rights Watch documented several reasons for non-payment of benefits, including the lack of awareness of parents and carers that non-payment would prevent students from receiving their qualification. Officials at six schools told Human Rights Watch that parents and carers faced challenges with the timing of payments and the management of all required school costs. These officials called competitive financial and social priorities and struggles for parents and caregivers as factors in non-payment. Officials from four schools stressed that some parents and carers who had not completed secondary education do not understand the importance or value of qualification; Officials from three other schools mentioned the lack of interest or appreciation of education more generally as a factor.
Officials at seven schools ranging from deciles 1 to 8 reported that some families are ashamed to ask for help or to discuss their inability to pay the costs of the secondary exam. Officials at two schools, a decile 3 city school and a school for decile 5 in rural areas, reported that some students did not pay because they were doing an internship or working in the farming community. This means that they have not completed the qualification, so they did not have to pay or wanted to.
Officials from three schools said the deadline for early payment was problematic, both for financial support and for the payment of full costs, because parents and carers did not think about exams at that time.
Parents or carers who miss the payment deadline will have to pay an additional administration fee of NZ $ 50, a fine representing 65 percent of the original fee. Students are also no longer entitled to financial support and are required to pay the full fee plus the late fee, a total of NZ $ 126.70. One deputy director of a school for urban decile 1 stated that the administrative costs were a considerable amount for those in the school community: "if you miss all these cuts [for the financial assistance and then for the fees deadline]it is the late fee that cuts. "Another deputy headmaster of a Deciel 1 school on the North Island reported that the late compensation penalty worsened the problem for students:" If every time you miss that, it's $ 76.70 plus $ 50 and if you do that on every level … it is a huge amount of money to pay. "
Many schools – although not all – reported that they are proactive in raising awareness about the upcoming compensation deadlines and contacting and following up students and parents and caregivers when no fees have been paid (see & # 39; Extra work pressure for schools & # 39;). Officials from five schools stated that they had a system for parents and caretakers to make weekly or regular small payments.
Officials from fifteen schools ranging from deciles 1 to 7 reported that the school was responsible for the costs of the NCEA's fees for students who could not. However, many other schools do not do this. In four cases, the school officials said that the school covered the NCEA Scholarship exam fee, whereby students were not eligible for the exemption. In total, officials from seven schools said that the introduction of fees for NCEA Scholarship examinations in 2015 constituted an additional barrier for students who have financial problems.
b. Negative consequences for children
As mentioned above, students whose fees are not paid, their results are not on their declaration of performance in New Zealand and are not formally awarded their NCEA qualification. This means that they do not receive their official certificate and have no proof from NZQA that they have reached the Commission. A deputy headmaster of a decile 1 school in an urban area described how this can influence the life of a young person: "You have to have the certificate at a certain point in time … It does not happen often until the last moment, until you get through the list of checklists for job applications or scholarship applications works and you need a certified copy of results … a certificate. "A school principal of a national decile 5 school stated that they would pay the costs if students could not because:" We want that people get the qualification, it's the ticket to drive. "
Providers of higher education have access to the results of students, so that students who have not paid compensation or who have obtained their qualifications are not excluded from participation in the university. However, Human Rights Watch discovered that some school officials were occasionally asked to verify the results of students for applications for scholarships from non-university sources. According to an official from a private educational institution offering professional training that counts for NCEA level 2, when students start a course, it can be unclear what standards students have achieved in high school without an NCEA certificate. This can be difficult for the students involved because they do not know what they have and this uncertainty is not always solved quickly. The official also stated that solving this problem may take a considerable amount of time. In some cases, the status of the students and enrollment in the course had to be changed to another subject or another standard, sometimes because they had already received that standard, but it was not registered because of non-payment of the costs. The official stated that students sometimes left or stopped before this was resolved because of the delay.
Officials from nine schools argued that students without qualifications could be denied access to the labor market if they were asked for proof of the Commission's qualification for a job. One of these schools reported that several of their students did not have access to the armed forces for this reason. In three of the nine schools, officials reported that they had also achieved school results for students who had not paid to help them find a job.
A 16-year-old student in year 12 in 2017 at a secondary school on the Noordereiland described the extra emphasis that non-payment of costs caused, especially when friends had already received their credits. "It really affects the student's way of thinking," he told us, "especially if you already have problems with the system, like when you ask friends about your number of credits and you only have 30 or 40 but less. [are] to show up."
In this case, the student needed his NCEA Level 1 certificate for a class 2 Careers. His parents had not paid his fee within the deadline and when they paid them with the NZ $ 50 administration fee, it took 15 working days for the website to reflect this. As a result, he missed the deadline for his assignment. "People say that" education is free of charge "in New Zealand," he said, "but it is not really free if you have a fee. & # 39;
An official at a private tertiary vocational training provider who often communicated unpaid credits to students said: "The implications for students are also heavy, they do not know what they have or do not have." One decile 6 school official who stated that the Commission's fees for paying students who did not pay the parents stated that they had not told the students that they had paid for them to save their pride. The headmaster of a school for decile 7 stated: "My personal opinion is that [that the exam fee is] an unnecessary barrier. Which civilized country does teens take into account to qualify? … I do not consider it ethical to charge the costs of high school students. "A deputy director of a school from decile 1 stated:" The other rule is what whanau whether the family is willing to do with their money affects children. It is almost as if we are punishing children for what families choose to do. "
c. Problems in accessing the financial assistance system
Human Rights Watch discovered that some students do not benefit from the financial help available to parents and caregivers who are unable to pay the full costs of the Commission. In addition, some families can not pay even with financial help. A deputy director of a school for decile 1 said that despite financial aid not all students at his school could even pay the lower costs.
Teachers and directors from 12 schools expressed their concern that the financial assistance process is a new obstacle for parents and carers who already have financial and social problems. Moreover, some families do not have the means to complete the process, especially if they miss the deadline and need to contact NZQA directly. The process requires parents and carers to complete additional paperwork, such as a personalized form, and assess their entitlement to financial support on the basis of benefits or income.
Officials from six schools reported that some parents experienced language barriers when completing the financial support form. This includes parents or guardians for whom English is a second language, and also for low-literate people who have difficulty with the complex terminology and process. The nominated person of one principal at a North Island school emphasized that language such as "Community Service Card Rights and Earnings Thresholds" could easily read: "To see if this is allowed, go to: [weblink]. "Another principal described the form as" telling "and difficult for non-native English speakers.
If parents and caregivers miss the deadline for fees or financial assistance, they must pay NZQA directly by check, direct debit or credit card payment, online or by completing and sending the form or e-mailing it to NZQA. According to officials at four schools – two deciles 6, one decile 4 and one decile 1 school – some families do not have access to the internet and can not get the form or pay online.
Officials at eight schools claimed that some students are not eligible for financial support, but still struggle to pay their NCEA allowances and other costs. They described retired grandparents who raise their grandchildren, single-parent families or people who generally struggle financially.
Families can apply for an interest-free NZ $ 200 loan at Work and Income for administrative costs for exams for a dependent child who goes to school, is repayable within 52 weeks, but the extra paperwork, complex processes and stigmatization associated with claiming those benefits can prevent parents and caregivers from submitting an application, according to a deputy director of a decile 3 rural school. A deputy headmaster at a decile 3 rural school stated that there is a stigma attached to claiming benefits and a feeling that you should be ashamed of yourself.
d. Extra work pressure for schools
Schools are responsible for collecting and processing fees and requests from the ECA for financial support. Somewhat circularly, NZQA offers funding to all schools for this purpose. However, Human Rights Watch has found that managing and processing the costs of the NCEA means a significant amount of work for schools to ensure that students pay their costs and that those who qualify apply for timely financial support. This responsibility lies not only with administrative staff, but also with lecturers and clients. This influences the time that the staff assigns to the teaching and the curriculum, and therefore has an influence on the training of students. One director of a school from decile 7 said: "It concerns people as a client who should concentrate on education and learning."
Human Rights Watch discovered that many schools spend a lot of time writing, phone and texting contacting parents and carers to ensure that the costs are paid. Many school staff mentioned the considerable workload to proactively inform and follow up students in cases of non-payment. An assistant director in a school in decile 6 said: "I normally start with a list of about 30. The process is that the ladies of the office e-mail with the countdown of three months and bills. mails, then more specific emails, then I continue with text messages and then I continue calling. [NZQA is] gather in thousands and thousands. And we do the work. "Another client stated that it was a considerable amount of work for the office staff, that there was a lot of follow-up and that they constantly reminded parents that they had to pay fees until the payment deadline." He wrote weekly letters to a number of parents He told us that an official from a Deciel 1 school confirmed that collecting and processing these fees was one of the main responsibilities of the school cashier.
At one school, a teacher said that the staff sometimes discussed the Commission's process and the costs of the parent-teacher interviews, so that the available time was limited to discuss the development of the students. The teacher said: "We have just had parent-teacher interviews, we spent a lot of time in discussions about the financial aid form, we should talk about how we can improve student learning, not how we can help parents to pay. "Three schools argued that it would be cheaper for the school to pay the costs than to pay the staff time and money spent on following up parents and caretakers. A deputy headmaster of a school in urban decile 1 wrote: "I would like to say that it would be cheaper in this school to pay for the costs of the children instead of hunting and financial help, given admin hours, phone calls, photocopies, shipping costs, text costs In the light of the free tertiary fees of the new government, it seems even more absurd to take the Commission into account! "
2. Impact of indirect school costs on students' equal access to quality education
Human Rights Watch also found that some students, especially those from lower socio-economic families, do not have access to high-quality education on an equal basis with other students because their choice of subjects is influenced by other costs. This creates inequality between students whose parents or caregivers can pay those costs and those who can not. It also influences the ability of schools to offer a quality curriculum for all students, because schools sometimes cover costs that some parents or caretakers can not pay, limiting the funding it can allocate to other parts of the curriculum.
As explained in Circular 2013/06, there are guidelines that determine what schools parents and guardians of students can afford to pay in state and state integrated schools. These fall into three broad categories: attendance fees for students in public schools; costs for goods or services if a parent has chosen to purchase the item in question, for example canteen food or stationery; and "voluntary donations" for general or specific purposes, e.g. sports equipment or library books.
According to the guidelines, schools can reduce the cost of tuition fees and materials related to the curriculum, the operational costs and the enrollment process and the costs associated with information about this process and the cost of travel for educational purposes, such as for geography and extracurricular courses, which are part part of the compulsory curriculum.
Schools can charge materials for courses such as woodwork, metalworking and home economics. These extra expenses can be an obstacle for students whose families can not afford them. It means that students can not choose the subjects they want to do if they can not afford the materials required for that course. Where schools do not cover these costs, students are sometimes unable to take the lessons they want and they can not follow the education they would like and which is necessary for their future development. This creates a gap between those students whose family can pay these costs and those who can not. One deputy director said: "For metal work you have to have metal, it has to be paid somewhere … If we do not get the money, we do not have the money The same goes for all those other subjects Woodwork, wood is expensive but the government does not pay for the wood. "This school was one of those who had found external funding to help with the costs.
Officials at seven schools drew their attention to the question of how these costs affected the budgets of students and their schools. Volgens een ambtenaar in een landelijk deciel 6-school: "Er zijn een aantal gezinnen die zeggen dat we dit niet kunnen bestuderen, omdat we het ons niet kunnen veroorloven om te betalen wat het kost om die cursus te volgen." Evenzo, een ander landelijk deciel 6 schoolassistent meldde dat de school de kosten voor cursussen zoals huishoudkunde dekt, zodat studenten die het zich tijdens de lessen gebruikte voedsel niet konden veroorloven, toch dat onderwerp konden nemen. Hij verklaarde ook dat studenten soms hun onderwerpkeuze baseren op die waarbij geen financiële kosten zijn gemoeid, in tegenstelling tot de voorkeurstaalkeuze. "Maar als de kinderen niet genoeg geld hebben om het eten te betalen, kunnen ze het zich niet veroorloven. Ze hebben geen dollar op hun naam staan. Dus misschien doen ze het [x subject] omdat het om geld gaat. "
De directeur van een school voor deciel 5 verklaarde: "We willen kwalitatief hoogstaand onderwijs bieden, maar overheidsfinanciering dekt slechts 79 procent hiervan." Een functionaris op een school in deciel 6 op een landelijk gebied verklaarde: "Theoretisch onderwijs is gratis. Scholen kunnen geen kosten in rekening brengen voor lesmateriaal. Maar de realiteit is dat als we een gevarieerd curriculum willen, we dat moeten aanrekenen. Scholen zijn niet genoeg gefinancierd om een gratis leerplan te geven. "Het hoofd van een deciele 3 stadsschool schreef:" De kloof in leermogelijkheden die wordt aangeboden aan NZ-studenten wordt steeds gevarieerder, afhankelijk van de ouders[’] economische omstandigheden. "
In dit verband merken wij op dat het VN-Comité voor Economische, Sociale en Culturele rechten onlangs tijdens de recente evaluatie van de mensenrechtensituatie in Nieuw-Zeeland zijn bezorgdheid uitsprak over "de indirecte onderwijskosten die tot schoolverlaters leiden, meestal door studenten uit kansarme en gemarginaliseerde groepen". huishoudens. "De commissie adviseerde daarom dat Nieuw-Zeeland" effectieve maatregelen neemt om de indirecte scholingskosten aan te pakken, onder meer door de regeling voor meer financiering voor openbare scholen ten uitvoer te leggen, om te zorgen voor gelijke toegang tot onderwijs voor alle kinderen en studenten. "