New Zealand is a small, some would argue, perfectly formed, country. We’re diverse and proud of it. That diversity is reflected in our education system.

Our roughly 5,000 early childhood education providers, 2,500 schools, 30 universities and polytechnics, and more than 400 private training establishments all run relatively autonomously. That autonomy creates a lot of choice for students and their families, as each provider reflects the diversity of its community in both its values and the local curriculum they offer.

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The core attributes of this system have been in place for a long time and it generally serves us pretty well. We punch above our weight by international standards in terms of investment and outcomes from education. Our main challenge is that we have huge variability in outcomes – our top students do exceptionally well but too many of our students fall behind and never catch up.

About the Author:

Dr. Craig Jones is a Deputy Secretary at New Zealand’s Ministry of Education.

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