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    New Zealand Education System

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    The land of sweeping mountains, golden beaches, and stretches of blue, New Zealand is a country straight out of a fairytale. Not just its breathtaking scenery but its cosmopolitan lifestyle, world-class education, and global exposure make it a desirable study destination. Studying in New Zealand, you can gain high-quality education at affordable costs as well as the best global exposure in your chosen field of study. From research-oriented programs to immense research opportunities, the universities in New Zealand are amongst the top-ranked academic institutions in the world. Are you wondering how the education system of New Zealand is at par compared to the US, the UK, and the like? This blog seeks to explore the New Zealand education system, its salient features, and what sets it apart from other countries around the world.

    About New Zealand Education System
    The education system of New Zealand is student-centered and emphasizes life-long learning. The New Zealand Education System has been ranked 3rd in the world as per the Second edition of Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) Worldwide Educating for the Future Index 2018.

    Following a primary, intermediate, and secondary schooling structure, the academic apparatus followed in the country is divided into five main levels. There are various stages of learning based on the age of the individual and here are the main schooling levels of the New Zealand Education System.

    Early Childhood: 2-5 years
    Primary School: 5-10 years
    Intermediate School: 11-12 years
    Secondary School: 13-18 years
    Tertiary Education: 18+

    Early Childhood Education
    In the New Zealand Education System, Early Childhood Education (ECE) stage is the pre-primary schooling phase as it comes before a child is old enough to join a primary school. Early learning plays a crucial role in adding to a child’s curiosity towards learning. Though it is not a compulsory phase of education, a larger percentage of children in New Zealand attend pre-primary schools for 20-22 hours per week, and for the initial week, their education is funded by the government to ensure that equal education is provided to all.

    This first and foremost stage of the New Zealand Education System aims to build a child’s abilities and skills, nurtures them to adapt to new situations, and prepares them for the challenges that lay ahead when they join a primary school. New Zealand has a large number of licensed early education providers like kindergartens, play centers, and home-based centers. This is an important part of a child’s formative years and effective early childhood education lays a foundation for a healthy process of learning by helping them develop their curiosity and creativity.

    Interesting Fact: There are Early Childhood Education (ECE) Services offered in New Zealand and are actually subsided by the government for children attending an ECE service referred to as Kōhanga Reo for more than 6 hours a day.

    Primary Schooling
    Primary schooling is considered the first step into the world of formal education. New Zealand Education System has laid a quintessential emphasis on every individual’s right to education as it guides them towards a better life. Every child gets free primary education in state schools provided that he/she is a permanent resident of New Zealand. This level of schooling is guided by the disciplines and study areas designed by New Zealand National Curriculum and includes subjects like Arts, English, Physical Education, Mathematics, Sciences, and Technology. The basic skills of reading, writing, and simple calculations are taught to children and they are regularly evaluated according to a set standard of assessment. This phase works towards instilling basic life skills in children to build a great foundation for their further education.

    Interesting Fact: The primary school starts at Year 1 to Year 8 (including intermediate school from Year 7 to Year 8) and the primary and secondary is considered compulsory.

    Intermediate Schooling
    The bridging years between primary education and secondary education refer to the intermediate schooling stage in the New Zealand Education System. These two or three years of schooling are focused on enhancing the basic skills of children and making them more conversant with the ways of the world. This level of education is offered by primary schools or in some cases by intermediate schools. These years emphasize helping students find their interests and develop their potentials to ensure that they make the right decision when choosing a field later in their careers.

    Interesting Fact: Intermediate Schooling in the New Zealand Education System is often considered a part of the primary schooling stage.

    Secondary Education
    High schoolers or students enrolled in secondary schools work to achieve the National Certificate of Education Achievement (NCEA) which is the main high school qualification under the New Zealand Education system. Most secondary schools in the country are state-owned and follow the national curriculum while there are some state-integrated schools and private schools. These years move towards the conclusion of the schooling phase. Along with the major qualification, various vocational courses and qualifications are often offered to help students explore a diverse range of fields they are interested in and then choose for the next phase of their education accordingly. These qualifications prepare students for the challenges of the professional world. Choosing the right course and vocational degree is the key in this phase as it forms the base for future educational endeavors like a Bachelor’s degree or a diploma degree. This is the final step of schooling and provides the impetus for students to join the next phase of higher degree-level education.

    Interesting Fact: There are different types of provisions after the senior secondary school level for polytechnic courses, vocational and technical education like Youth Guarantee Courses, Trades Academies, Institutes of Technology, Industrial Training Organisations, etc.

    Local Schools
    There are several local schools in the country and students visit schools close to where they live. Schools in New Zealand follow a rule called ‘Zoning’. That means if a child lives in the area of the school, they are guaranteed to get a spot in the school. If you wish to apply to a school that is outside your area, you can apply to the school but your seat isn’t guaranteed.

    State, State Integrated, and Private Schools
    Most schools in New Zealand are run by the state. These schools follow national standards and are non-religious. State integrated schools are special schools. They are also funded by the state and teach the national curriculum. But they have a set of their own rules and teach specific philosophies and religions. Private schools are partly funded by the government but are also run through charging parents fees. They have their own program and curriculum.

    National Curriculum
    The National Curriculum covers subjects for primary and secondary schools. They also cover standards that students need to reach in these subjects. Primary education focuses on foundational learning and competencies in numeracy and literacy. At the secondary level, you learn a broad and balanced curriculum with specialization in years 11-13.

    Tertiary Education
    At the tertiary education stage, higher-level degrees which are research-oriented and skill-based are offered by universities and colleges in New Zealand. The country is home to 8 state-funded universities, 16 Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs), and multiple Private Training Establishments (PTT). PPT programs are mostly specialized vocational degrees while universities offer courses that familiarize students with the professional world and allow students to undertake further educational qualifications like postgraduate degrees and doctorates spread across a varied array of specializations and subject areas.

    Interesting Fact: The QS University Rankings 2021 featured 8 universities of New Zealand under the Top 100 for at least one subject.

    Top Universities in New Zealand
    The universities and colleges in New Zealand offer globally recognized degrees spread across a wide range of fields and specializations. New Zealand is becoming increasingly popular amongst international students as its academic institutions have consistently ranked amongst the top universities. Enlisted below are the world-class and top-ranked universities in the world which you must consider if you are planning to pursue higher studies there:

    -University of Auckland
    -University of Canterbury
    -University of Otago
    -Victoria University of Wellington
    -Auckland University of Technology
    -Massey University
    -University of Waikato
    -Lincoln Universit

    New Zealand Education Ranking
    The education system of New Zealand has been globally known for great quality.

    -In 2019, New Zealand topped the list of English-speaking countries for the future ranking.
    -All 8 universities of New Zealand featured in QS Ranking 2019.
    -The country’s higher education system was ranked 16th in the world

    Fees and Scholarships
    Studying in New Zealand is not only a great opportunity but also provides education at affordable costs. While the universities decide the fees of their courses, the average tuition fee costs from NZ$22, 000 to NZ$30,000 a year for a bachelor’s degree. The average tuition fee for a master’s in New Zealand is between NZ$25,000 and NZ$35,000 a year.


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