Concerns over the capability of the students of Niue High School to transition to the new NCEA online examination format expected to be in effect in 2024 are revealed by the Education Department with shortfalls and delays in the supply of resources and students’ IT literacy issues.
Students of Niue High School will be required to sit their NCEA exams online starting next year, but according to the education department, the school is not properly resourced to cater to these changes.
In response to questions from BCN News about the school’s computer resources, the director of Education Birtha Tongahai, who is currently on special leave as a candidate for the upcoming General Election said that the school does not have enough computers or laptops to prepare the students for the changes in NCEA expected to take place next year.
Director of Education Birtha Tongahai last week said “To date our requests for the majority of school and subject devices have been put on hold. The constant hold on funds by Treasury is detrimental to students having access to up-to-date devices. This is crucial in the effective teaching and learning of our students as NCEA mandates the use of digital technology in this space.”
In 2022, 42 students from Year 9 and 33 students from Year 10 took part in the NCEA numeracy and literacy pilot to test the capabilities of the students to undertake the changes which will come into effect next year.
The report of the pilot found that the 240 students from the Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau did not do as well as the students in NZ.
The pilot NCEA online exam revealed a number of issues and challenges, namely that there were not enough devices available for the students at the school and some students struggled to use the devices, not fluent in the use of digital technology.
The students were also unfamiliar with the context of some of the tests, using mainly NZ-based context.
Birtha Tongahai told BCN News that the junior students at NHS need the computers in place now so that they can be better prepared and improve their ICT literacy in order to cope with the NCEA exams next year.
She said that the school staff and teachers are frustrated because they are coming to the end of term 1 but the school is not properly resourced to adapt and transition to the new changes for NCEA in 2024.
In some school departments, they don’t even have printers, considered a piece of essential equipment in a school classroom of the 21st century.
The annual budget for the Education Department for this current financial year is just over $3.8 million dollars, and $1.5 million of the budget is allocated for Niue High School. It is unclear how much of this budget is allocated for resourcing the classrooms at the school.
Due to the absence of some staff members, BCN News was not able to locate a copy of the Education budget after making several requests to the Treasury Department, Education Department, and Niue High School.
The Director of Education said that they and the school will endeavour to ensure the students are prepared through the course of the academic year with the support of parents and the community.