How the census could inform education

How to use census data as a teaching tool, and how this year’s census could impact the future of education.

Last week, the census was held on Tuesday 7 March.  

The census is a five-yearly survey which provides a “snapshot” of all the people in New Zealand at that time (which in 2023 will include famed pop star Harry Styles).  

This year, data collectors are aiming to avoid the pitfalls of the 2018 census, which returned low response rates and suffered from delayed output and poor quality.  

Read the Term 1 edition of School News HERE.

However, many of the changes implemented in the 2018 census worked well and remained in effect for the 2023 census, including the online form option.  

Recent media has covered the importance of filling out the census, as population data informs many aspects of policy making – including education. 

The census has been described as one of the most important ways of interacting with government, apart from voting. That’s because the national dataset is used in matters of resource allocation and government services, which means being counted benefits you and your community. That’s the theme of this year’s census: tatou tātou, we all count.  

This year, teachers can access the census resource pack via the website. It includes lesson plans developed alongside Māori and Pasifika teachers, tamariki and rangatahi that unpacks the importance of the census in te reo Māori, nine Pacific languages and English. There’s also a competition, and tools to develop your own mini-census, which illustrates how data is collected, and can be used to teach statistics.  

Other teaching activities using the census could involve looking at the pubically accessible census data in New Zealand over time, teaching tamariki and rangatahi how to generate their own graphs and statistics. The data could also be used to support social science topics, such as looking at the demographic changes of the New Zealand population over time.  

Finally, the census will also have a direct bearing on the education sector as a whole, as the data will be used to allocate resources for schools and education across the motu.  

The census website states that the government “uses census data to understand how it will fund schools including teachers, and where schools will be.”  

Naomii Seah

Naomii Seah is a writer and journalist from Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand. She enjoys crochet, painting, and a coffee or two at the beach. Her work can be found at The Spinoff, The Pantograph Punch, Stuff, and of course, School News NZ.
Back to top button