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Youth Week: What is the value of education?

A reflection on the value of education in the wake of Covid-19.

What is the value of education? Is it based on the number of students you have, the pass rates you achieve or the comments you receive from families. 

By Te Aorewa Rolleston

Māori children in New Zealand
Māori children in New Zealand

If you want a truthful answer, you must first ask the learner themselves. 

At the beginning of this year, I did a humanities paper for my university degree. 

In that course we learnt about the humanities and “Great Ideas”. 

The humanities is basically learning about society, the communities we live in, the cultures we represent and the wider world that we were born into and are a part of. 

But there was one part from that class that changed my life - it was a video of the Philosopher Dr Judith Butler presenting a speech to a university in the US about the value of humanities. 

What becomes clear is that the humanities and education are like a parent and a child, they both need one another, they both help one another to grow and evolve,  therefore they must both be healthy and strong otherwise one will struggle if the other is not. 

During this Covid-19 pandemic, many children and young adults have been continuing to learn and be educated amongst many ups and downs, as society has tried to adapt to the virus.  

Education has had to change but that does not mean that the learning received should be any different. 

Just like the humanities, it is important to continue to foster and share ideas, to be critical of the things we learn and have the ability to contribute our own ideas into society no matter where we are. 

Many young people will not have safe environments to learn from, they will not have the privilege of technology and  broadband and they will not have the same knowledge of how to cope with such dramatic changes to their daily lives. 

Therefore that is when the parent needs to step in and help. Education itself and how it is delivered needs to be stronger for our young learners who are the future of humanities- they are our society for the next 50 years and beyond. 

The nourishment our learners receive is shaped by the financial support they are given, the engagement that takes place between staff and students and more importantly the extra time that is put in to make sure that the quality of education is equal for everyone whether that is early childhood, primary and secondary or tertiary. 

If you would like to know the value of education, the best time to ask is now and the response you receive will be a reflection of the ideas humanity carries for the years to come.

Te Aorewa Rolleston is of Ngai Te Rangi and Ngāti Ranginui descent.