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Selection as awards finalist 'vindication' for Life Education

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Being selected as a finalist in the World Summit Awards has spurred Life Education to achieve one of its other major goals in the next five years.

Minister Amy Adams announced this month that Life Education had been chosen as a finalist in the 2013 World Summit Awards for creativity and innovation in ICT (Innovation and Communication Technology).

CEO, John O’Connell, said the selection is a vindication that Life Education is "heading in the right direction" by introducing the latest digital technology to its mobile classrooms.

Life Education Trust educators currently bring their programmes to 50 percent of New Zealand schools annually and 80 percent every two years.

"That’s phenomenal for one organisation but our vision is to be available to all schools and engage with every child, every year," John O’Connell says.

"We’re continuing to grow and have the capacity to meet the needs of all New Zealand children. To achieve that we must fund and introduce 10 more technology driven classrooms in the next five years."

John O’Connell acknowledges to achieve that Life Education must be flexible in the way they deliver programmes, use their mobile classrooms more efficiently- and create an environment of ‘inquiry learning’ in the classroom.

"That means structuring our programme so we support teachers and the classroom environment as schools increasingly adopt an inquiry based approach to learning," John says.

"Schools are at various stages of using digital technology and our goal is to embrace technology so we can create a leading edge learning environment in the classroom. Being a finalist in the World Summit Awards is validation of our direction."

John sees the teacher as being an integral part of Life Education lessons and wants the programmes Life Education provides to be embedded in the school teaching plan "rather than being a clip-on."

"In doing that we can effectively show children how their bodies operate, build self esteem and resilience and encourage them to appreciate they are unique and special. This helps them understand social relationships and the environment around them."

John O’Connell points out that New Zealand has the highest rate of youth suicide in the OECD world and helping children to develop resilience and self-worth is one important aspect. "Realising dreams" can also help address the problem.

A further challenge is to create a relationship with children beyond the classroom. To achieve that Life Education needs to build Club Harold. Harold, the giraffe, Life Education’s quintessential mascot, teaches youngsters to look up rather than down at their shoe laces.

"Life Education will be interactive through Harold. Children want to engage with him anytime, any place with whatever device they have," John says.

"Our job is to have the technology in place so children and parents can access him through the web at home or wherever they are.

"As a provider of unique education programmes we must understand where schools will be in five years’ time, what the children of a future generation want and meet that need."

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