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Media release

Ministry of Education’s unreasonable omissions in NZSL in education strategy

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The Chief Ombudsman says the Ministry of Education acted unreasonably when it failed to ensure its strategy for progressing access to education in New Zealand Sign Language included specific ways to achieve its goals.

Mr Boshier today published his opinion on a complaint from Deaf Aotearoa, a service provider and advocacy organisation for the Deaf community, about the Ministry’s New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) in education strategy.

The Ministry produced the ‘Development Map’ as its strategy, accompanied by an A3 graphic, in 2019 in consultation with the NZSL Board and groups including Deaf Aotearoa.

Deaf Aotearoa believed the Development Map did not adequately address the long-term issues Deaf learners faced in the provision of NZSL in the New Zealand education system.

“My investigation found that the Development Map and graphic was the key vehicle to progress education in NZSL,” Mr Boshier says.

“After considering the Ministry’s domestic and international obligations and investigating its progress in implementing the goals of the map, I formed the opinion that the Ministry unreasonably omitted to:

  • implement appropriate timeframes, lines of accountability and targets to make the map’s goals operational;
  • take adequate steps to ensure that it identifies and advises on the need to secure budget to implement those goals; and
  • institute reasonable provisions for stakeholders to check in and feel confident that the Ministry is on track with progressing the goals of the map.”

“While I applaud the Ministry for developing a holistic plan setting out long-term goals it would like to achieve to progress education in NZSL, in my view it was a high-level aspirational policy document which was missing a coherent and coordinated implementation plan that included specific steps, lines of accountability and targets,” Mr Boshier says.

The Chief Ombudsman recommended the Ministry:

  • revises its strategy (ie, the map) in accordance with his opinion;
  • clearly and frequently communicates progress on redeveloping the map to the key stakeholders it has shared the map with; and
  • provides him with quarterly reports on the progress of the above recommendations

Read the opinion

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