The first 2009 edition of BayBuzz Digest is now available. Watch for it in cafes, shops, and for many … in your letterbox. Nine more editions will follow this year.

Breaking new ground, we have devoted most of the February issue to a single theme – education.

Various studies, reports and media headlines call into question the priorities and performance of our education system. Consider:

  • Approximately 1.1 million New Zealanders (43% of adults aged 16 to 65) have literacy skills below those needed to participate fully in a knowledge society, and 51% of adults have numeracy skills lower than those needed to meet the complex demands of everyday life and work.
  • The agriculture sector – our most important industry – is only filling around 65% of its advertised vacancies. How can this situation be sustainable?
  • 71% of businesses surveyed by BusinessNZ said the educational system is not meeting their needs.
  • Last year, more than 2,500 hard core truants under age 16 were absent for at least twenty days.
  • All colleges of education have shown a decline in enrolments over the past five years, in the face of a “baby bulge” now in its third year.
  • 31% of people age 15 years and over in Hawke’s Bay have no formal educational qualifications. How successful can they be in life?
  • Principals representing a quarter of the country’s secondary schools recently requested a meeting with the Education Minister over the new school curriculum, which many apparently believe will “dumb down” the education system.
  • Meantime, the high school teachers union wants to cut the number of high school exams because they consider the system too demanding.

Since these issues touch all of us as students, parents, life-long learners, professionals in the field, taxpayers and so forth, we thought the subject well-worth a BayBuzz Digest special edition.

Our guest writers have thought long and hard and bring a broad range of perspectives to education issues. They’ve taught, run schools, studied, developed and championed education programs. They’ve worried about mis-allocated resources, outmoded educational strategies, and shortages of needed skills in the workplace.

I’m certain one or another of our authors will stir you up! Here’s our line-up (just click on name to read their article): Education Minister Anne Tolley, Mark Cleary, Claire Hague, Janet Takarangi, Mick Lester, Louis Chambers (and another), Claire Vogtherr, Kym Hamilton, Elizabeth Sisson, Tim Gilbertson and Brendan Webb.

If you read the articles on the BayBuzz website (, you can easily comment publicly, print out articles, or forward them by email to your friends and colleagues. And of course you can always send your thoughts to BayBuzz at

Another aspect of education is your own life-long learning. In this edition of BayBuzz Digest we begin a new feature, Brainfood, sponsored by Clearview Winery & Restaurant. Here you’ll find complete information on a wide range of forums, events, presentations, classes and more where you can stretch your mind in every conceivable direction. We’ll update Brainfood each month; so we welcome your suggestions for future learning opportunities we should include.

Finally, lest you suffer from “education overload,” we’ve prepared a few additional articles to entertain and edify you. Mark Sweet begins two multi-part series in this edition. One will guide you through the history of wine in Hawke’s Bay. Mark’s story begins this month with the voyage of the Delphine, which left Le Havre on Christmas eve, 1836. His other series, on sustainability, will take a look at changing perceptions of our region’s most precious natural asset, our land and soil.

Kent Baddeley continues to write about food, this month taking us inside his kitchen for a close-up look at a day in the life of a chef.

So sit back and enjoy. You have all month to work your way through the February BayBuzz Digest.

Tom Belford

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1 Comment

  1. Well done Tom, your team and all the contirbutors!

    What a great read, with a wide range of articles by first-class commentators, on current local topics.

    Thanks for giving us this forum!

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