Science & Innovation

Aotearoa Youth Declaration is an annual conference for High School Students which connects young people with government policy. Participants work in Focus Groups to develop policy statements that represent their views and priorities on a range of subjects. The statements below were drafted by the participants of the Science & Innovation Focus Group, and approved by the participants at the Conference.

12.1 We understand that science, as a subject, is not introduced early enough to students in schools, resulting in rushed and inadequate science education. Therefore, we ask for the Ministry of Education to mandate schools educating Year 7 and above to adopt frequent science education (five or more hours a week). This will create a higher quality science education for the population and more scientifically literate citizens.
12.2 We recognise that in low socioeconomic communities, students have limited access to adequate tools and facilities in order to pursue an education in the scientific and technological disciplines. This has diminished these students career prospects in the STEM fields. We propose that equitable funding be provided to low decile schools so students can receive equal educational opportunities to students in high decile schools, in science and technology . This will allow all students to have a fair chance at undertaking an education and career in STEM in NZ.
12.3 Science is often difficult for the public to understand because of jargon and paywalls. This allows special interest groups to mislead the public on scientific matters, such as climate change, fluoridation, nuclear power, genetic engineering, the abuse of scientists, and for crucial action to be delayed. We request the creation of an independent, publicly funded organisation to defend scientists from slander, ensure accurate science reporting and uphold mohiotanga in New Zealand.
12.4 We believe that the New Zealand Government’s investment in domestic research and development is inadequate per capita GDP compared to other developed countries. This inhibits high level advancement in science and technology in New Zealand. We call upon the Government to increase funding to Crown Research Institutes, such as Callaghan Innovation, to allow New Zealand to remain economically competitive.
12.5 The automation of the workforce is increasing at an exponential rate. We urge that New Zealand be ready for this wave of progression, considering the negative effects of automation, such as job displacement. We stress the the importance of mitigating this by advancing worker skills, resulting in more efficient, upskilled generations in the future, leading to creative innovation in employment.
12.6 We believe that minority groups such as women, Māori and Pacific Islanders, and LGBTIQ+ people are underrepresented in STEM fields. This disparity prevents fair representation in the scientific community and prevents a socially diverse contribution to STEM development in New Zealand from reaching its full potential. We appreciate equity funding via scholarships, support networks, promotional programmes and community outreach as a way to address the problem.
12.7 We believe that there is a shortage of publicity and funding for extracurricular science programmes that target motivated high schoolers. These students are limited in reaching their potential. We call upon the Government to promote and support science extracurriculars and extension through (though not limited to) the following:

  1. Increasing government funding for extracurricular programmes in science-based activities; and
  2. Giving schools information through the NZQA website to promote science extracurriculars opportunities such as Olympiads as extension.
The Science & Innovation Focus Group

An enormous thanks to the Focus Group participants, the Facilitators – Lauren and Mat, the Conference Organising Committee, and the Event Sponsors.