NZ government granted emergency powers over education sector due to Coronavirus

NZ government granted emergency powers over education sector due to Coronavirus

The NZ government has been granted stronger emergency powers over the country’s education institutions to help limit the spread of Coronavirus.

The Parliament of New Zealand has passed the COVID-19 Response Legislation Bill which amends the Education Act 1989 and gives the Secretary for Education the authority to issue binding instructions to New Zealand education providers.

This authority can only be used when absolutely necessary and the government believes the steps undertaken after the Bill’s implementation will help fight the spread of COVID-19. 

Emergency powers for NZ education secretary to fight Coronavirus outbreak

Under this bill, the NZ Secretary of Education has the power to give direct instructions to education providers on when to open or close their institutions, and how to control and manage them.

Based on the emergency powers granted to the NZ government by this Bill, educational institutions will also be guided on how to continue to provide education during these testing times.

Chris Hipkins, NZ Education Minister, reiterated that this Bill does not step on the academic freedom of the institutions and they are free to choose how they will implement the given directives.

This bill will be applied to all education entities, including: 

  • registered schools,
  • service providers,
  • hostels,
  • private training establishments,
  • institutions, and
  • educational or developmental service providing bodies or facilities.

Previously, educational institutions had complete autonomy. But Hipkins believes that due to the Coronavirus outbreak, there is a need for central direction so that issues can be dealt with as they emerge. 

Hipkins said: “…these emergency powers are required so that we can continue to ensure that there is a unified response to the outbreak of COVID-19, given that there are 2,500 school board entities and 4,000 service providers.

“We may need to act quickly with speed and pace from the centre and in order to do this these powers will be required.”

Pic: Lukas

Zahra Hamdani - Reporter, Global Education Times (GET News)

Zahra Hamdani is an Ireland-based reporter for Global Education Times who focuses on European and South Asian education news. When she is not writing for GET News, Zahra is a school-teacher and educationist with experience in both Primary and Secondary schools in the Republic of Ireland as well as in Pakistan.

You can reach Zahra at zahra@globaleducationtimes.org

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