A report by Te Mana Ākonga has shed light on the effect the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown has had on Māori tertiary students.
Te Mana Ākonga, the National Māori Students’ Association, includes numerous Māori student groups from across the country, such as Ngā Tauira Māori from the University of Auckland. In producing the report, Te Mana Ākonga conducted a widespread survey of Māori students currently in study.
Released in late June, the report covers the impact that Alert Level 4 has had on both the education and wellbeing of Māori students across New Zealand. Key issues that emerged from the report include experiences of financial hardship and lack of internet access, which both pose crucial challenges to learning. According to Te Mana Ākonga, “55% of students reported their experience of online learning to be negative and nearly three-quarters of students reported the overall impact on their education had been negative”.
In a press release, Te Mana Ākonga stated that they “believe that this is just the tip of the iceberg and believe there are many more challenges that Māori students face everyday”.
Mental health concerns were also a central issue of the report, with a large proportion of Māori students reporting that the lockdown has had a detrimental effect on their emotional state.
The report stresses that the experiences of Māori students should not be viewed in isolation, but are reflective of wider challenges that Māori face in education and society. “It is likely that the lockdown and subsequent stresses of this have impacted further on existing hardship,” according to the report.
Te Mana Ākonga have proposed a number of recommendations to the government and tertiary institutions in order to address these challenges. This includes the implementation of a universal education income, a policy also endorsed by the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations. Other measures proposed include meaningful inclusion of Māori values in policy and the addressing of systemic inequalities by government.
To view the full report by Te Mana Ākonga, head to temanaakonga.org.nz