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New Zealand education missing out on local tech innovation

With recent releases of MOU’s between the government and large global tech firms it’s great to see the government’s focus on supporting learning in a digital context and lifting New Zealand’s digital skills as far back as 2017.

Chat GPT, one of many new AI technologies gathering pace globally, has demonstrated how critical it is for Kiwi students and teachers to understand these new technologies.

Questions are being asked about the opportunities and the risks of using new digital technologies in our education system. But what is not being asked is why is it so hard for New Zealand technology companies to engage with the New Zealand education system?

In a recent report, Aotearoa Edtech Excellence – Transforming educational experiences, digital innovation and economic outcomes, EdTechNZ, the not-for-profit association for the New Zealand edtech sector, identified the leading issues holding back the growth of edtech in New Zealand.

The report found that the current technology procurement model for the education sector is very challenging and costly for smaller New Zealand edtech firms to engage with.

This inhibits some of New Zealand’s smaller and most innovative edtech firms from establishing their products in the local market.

“Technology has always been an important tool for learning as far back as the invention of the abacus in the 12th century,” says Alison Mackie, executive director of EdTechNZ.

“But now as we start to see artificial intelligence based technology entering the education system it becomes critically important that Aotearoa New Zealand culture is embedded in the software.

“To get the best outcomes for ākonga (learners) we need to make sure that innovative Kiwi edtech firms are able to partner with the Ministry of Education and get their local offerings into the system.

“Global tech is great, but not at the cost of local innovation,” says Mackie.

“What’s more, with growing international demand for edtech, a local vibrant edtech sector is also generating growing export revenues.”

In 2020 the Government spent $173.6 million on education software and that figure was expected to increase to $319.6 million by 2025.

EdTechNZ EdTechNZ is the voice of EdTech in New Zealand, supporting the growth of the sector. Our purpose is to drive the creative use of technology, inside and outside the classroom, for better student outcomes. We aim to facilitate a world class education system for all New Zealanders and showcase local EdTech to the world.