However, the accuracy of the statistical data presented by Education Review Office is arguable because the commission recognizes the impossibility of the sufficient data collection in relation to the student achievements of Māori. The reason for that is the lack of separation between the records of Māori and non-Māori students. Finally, ERO agrees that there are “not enough schools where Māori student achievement is comparable to that of non-Māori, or where schools can demonstrate that they are making a difference for these students.”
Besides, the report of ERO creates confusion by opposing own words: at first, an analysis provides a report with less than average improvements (32 and 45 percent in primary and secondary schools accordingly), and then it is pointed out that only 10 percent of all educational institutions showed no improvement. Out of this difference, there are only 20 percent of all schools that are not able to present any data. I suppose the reason for that is quite obvious: those schools which actively participate in the program would tend to record each achievement while those not much interested in the improvements would not keep track of the changes, at least because these changes could never take place within the school. Therefore, my suggestion is that the data presented by ERO so far are insufficient and yet non-demonstrable.
One should also point out that the strategy plan designed by ERO does not have any specific diversification or focus even though it is said to have. For a school, it is still a voluntary decision either to introduce changes in the educational process or not. The schools do not appear to be thoroughly classified, and this can be the case of the strategy fragmentation.
Taking into consideration the adjacent processes in the society, it is worth mentioning that from the Māori perspective, not only the system of education can be improved. According to Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal (2009), education is not the only challenge of Māori in New Zealand. Their cultural identity and place in the society are still the debating issues. The Māori leave the country for Australia because of either economic benefits and opportunities or negative experience in New Zealand (“Maori Party”, 2007). With the integration into the modern community, the Māori population continues experiencing difficulties with employment, dwelling, and overall level of life (Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal, 2009). This proves that without the full recognition and integration of the Māori nation, it would be hard to improve a single sphere of social life like education, for instance. Another suggestion here is that the efforts spent on restructuring the education in the country can just be vain – the educated Māori seeing no real perspectives in New Zealand would continue migrating to other countries, so the country would lose talented and skillful population which was brought up in its environment and society. This can lead to the excessive expenditures on education and social programs along with the process of population aging, which becomes a real demographic disaster for many developing countries.
A part of the Māori population also faces a language barrier in the school along with the cultural one. Let us now take a look at a similar case and observe what effective local solutions can be applied in achieving strong and purposeful performance.
Within the development of Māori modern social life in New Zealand, the efforts in improving the education for this minority group have also followed. For the last decade, beginning with the year 2000, many attempts were taken to ensure the introduction of Te Reo Māori, the language spoken by around 160,000 inhabitants of New Zealand (Statistics New Zealand, 2006), to the educational programs of English-medium schools, Ngā Haeata Mātauranga (2008) informs. According to the given source, the reason for that is to make the education for the native population more affordable. In the Annual Report on Māori Education (2008), one may find a description of action plan designed by Te Kopuru School in Northland. The principal of the school Lee Anderson expressed his vision for the three Māori principles standing for the righteous things (tika), truth (pono), and open loving relationships (aroha). Now the school encourages its students to learn in Te Reo Māori and suggests that “the changes at Te Kopuru School reflect the wants of her community” (Ngā Haeata Mātaurang, 2008).
The overall statistics shows that in the region where the school is situated, three fourth of the students (77%) can spell and read the Māori language, two thirds (61%) of them can write, and one fourth of these students possess the necessary or more advanced skills in some language disciplines. This was not possible a decade ago when the new principles were just being introduced.
Considering such progress, most of the community groups agree that positive results in integration and education are achieved, no negative impact on the non-Māori society members is detected, and, finally, the teaching practice significantly improved (Ngā Haeata Mātaurang, 2008).
In the article by Ngā Haeata Mātaurang (2008), one educational institution, Te Kopuru School, embodies the whole educational community and appears to be a vivid example of how one of the processes of integration for the national minorities is designed in the country. The school’s action plan shapes the optimistic prospect for the development of learning facilities for Māori making them better involved in the social life of the country and emphasizing on recognition of their cultural identity. I suppose that such changes in educational process witness about the community interest in allotting more freedom of choice and democratic consciousness to the Māori. Education has always been a concern for the long run and future perspectives, that’s why the country is about to experience significant social changes within a couple of decades for that the community will already feel the fruits of restructuring.
If to take a quick look in the past, one would notice that the commission responsible for the supervision of education process in the country, Education Review Office, was not able to clearly define the education principles in the 1990s. At that time, they had no evaluations and researches done, no special integration for public schools achieved, and no satisfaction from Māori in terms of education obtained. Here is where all sources refer to the single course of events: the concern of Māori as to the treatment of their language and culture was not much discussed. So far, no special forecasts for the restructuring of private schools within the public education sector were made (Boston, Dalziel, and St John, 1999). Supposedly, this was the primary push towards the introduction of all these changes in the next decade when Te Kopuru School acted as an active supporter of the Māori rights and social freedoms. The new integration model of tutoring was enough progressive in those days but was not precisely evaluated by the government (Boston, Dalziel, and St John, 1999).
Therefore, I suggest that Education Review Office could be then just observed as an independent institution that mostly monitored the achievement in the given field but was not very effective in designing the solutions and programs of development, at least back in the 90s. Besides, within the issue of national identity, culture and language of the Māori population, it is not reasonable to refer to the aforementioned institution as to the one responsible for the overall progress in the popularization of Māori way of life and its integration in the regular society of New Zealand. As mentioned at the beginning, the whole social program that incorporates the efforts in making the Māori community sustainable and equal in rights could be a suitable solution.
Ministry of Education (2011) identifies the conditions and requirements for the children to be enrolled in the education process and adds that “depending on where you live and your circumstances, your child may attend another type of school such as a state integrated or independent school”. This creates a certain background for the justification of Te Kopuru School’s activities and achievements. The school has diversified its vision of the educational process pursuing the establishment of strong teaching practices and emphasizing on several disciplines for the five-year-old newcomers. According to the words of the school administration (Ngā Haeata Mātaurang, 2008), the system proves its effectiveness by attracting and sustaining both Māori and non- Māori students. As a result, the school gets promoted by the word of mouth established by the parents whose children study at Te Kopuru.
Here it is important to mention that the government guarantees funding for the schools based on their needs (Ministry of Education, 2011). There should be an existing reason proving that the projects are worth investing. By saying that “Te Kopuru School reflects [...] the education sector’s growing understanding” (Ngā Haeata Mātaurang, 2008), the author might probably mean that many educational institutions, state and private, got supported by the government in different ways. This surely recognizes that the government acknowledges the development of educational means for all children in the country. As a result, Te Kopuru and many other schools specialized in tutoring in the Māori language appear to be in demand nowadays.
In order to conclude the two research cases, I would identify their relatedness to each other as well as to the realities of modern society in New Zealand. Along with the other references, they make up a clear understanding of the actual social problems and tendencies, which have already been taking place for decades.
From the one side, it is somewhat complicated to comment whether the improvement of the educational system is a project for the long run but, taking into consideration the last report of Education Review Office (Education Review Office, 2010), no substantial changes in the maintenance of educational benefits for the Māori community were noticed. Nevertheless, Māori now have more possibilities to socialize but, at the same time, there is an emphasis on their distinction from the other population and the intention to create more specialized schools namely for Māori students. The schools of mixed type are certainly the solution because private and specialized educational establishments are not always affordable to the common population and do not stimulate interaction between people.
From the other side, the recent state of education in the country shows the weakness of the government system in managing human and other resources. Being an official language (Statistics New Zealand, 2006), Māori is not so widespread even in schools, which doubts its true status. Therefore, the first thing to be done is to assure the relevance and the necessity of the Māori cultural impact in the system of education and legally introduce the nationwide or region-specific changes on the basis of the social feedback and statistical research.