Symposium sets sights on equity through education

A new Equity through Education research group will investigate how to shift the barriers to educational success

The need to establish research and advocacy to help combat inequity in education is the driver for a symposium hosted by Massey University’s Institute of Education on Wednesday, 17 February.

Key educators and visionaries from a range of non-government organisations, including UNESCO, UNICEF, Listening2Kids and the Human Rights in Education Trust, will gather at Massey’s Auckland campus in Albany to examine the challenges involved with achieving equity through education, and to provide direction for the Institute’s new research group, Equity through Education.

Co-leaders of the Equity through Education Research Group, Associate Professors Alison Kearney, Mandia Mentis and Tracy Riley, hope the symposium will provide an opportunity for those instrumental in tackling these issues to share ideas and propose new research.

Education determines future life success and wellbeing

“Education is such an important determinant of the quality of our adult lives, affecting our earning potential, health and life satisfaction,” says Dr Kearney. “It’s critical we find innovative solutions to the present inequity in education where factors such as gender, ethnicity, and socio-economic status are not determinants of school success.

“For example, despite many educational initiatives, a disproportionate number of Māori learners are not receiving the level of knowledge and skill needed to successfully participate in a 21st century society and economy. Our researchers, including Professor Jill Bevan-Brown, are keen to explore what educational factors have had a negative impact on Māori students and how these can be successfully addressed.”

“We strongly believe that for research to make a true impact it needs to be driven by the people it will directly affect. This symposium will give us the chance to do just that. It is our hope that we can start a conversation that, as it becomes more colourful and challenging, will also cultivate research projects that can result in change and advocacy for those who need it most,” says Dr Kearney.

Experts from Ireland and Australia share their knowledge

Keynote speakers include director of the cross-university Centre for Children's Rights from Queen’s University in Belfast, Professor Laura Lundy; Research Professor of Education at Federation University in Victoria, Australia, Professor John Smyth, and Massey’s College of Humanities and Social Science Deputy Pro-Vice Chancellor Professor Chris Gallavin.

From children’s rights to justice in education, and how to listen effectively to the voices of New Zealand school students, Dr Kearney is anticipating the issues canvassed during the symposium will extend well beyond teachers and schools to explore the broader context of equity in education.

“When you look at a wicked issue like this, you need to understand it from every angle. It’s not just a matter of doing what you think is best. Professor Smyth’s research, for example, is done extensively alongside Australian children asking them what they feel the right solution is,” she says.

To register, or for more information, please contact Marti Robinson –

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