23 Nov 2019

Student rubbishes claim NCEA text 'brainwashing' students

7:09 pm on 23 November 2019

A student has rubbished complaints by the National Party that the text used in a question in a level-three English exam is anti-farmer.

21790139 - writing hands of students at course

Photo: Photo / 123RF

National MP Amy Adams said the Qualifications Authority (NZQA) is "brainwashing" students by using the article from the New Zealand Geographic magazine titled Troubled Waters.

She has accused the Qualifications Authority of "state-sponsored bullying" of farmers.

The article describes freshwater being degraded by agriculture and the polarising debate over water quality.

Students are asked to discuss the way the writer explores ongoing change, and to analyse the writer's use of figurative and emotive language, symbolism, allusion and rhetorical questions.

National Party agriculture spokesperson Todd Muller said the exam question portrayed an unbalanced view of farming.

"There needs to be some balance in how our education system portrays farmers. We have the most sustainable farmers in the world but this rarely gets mentioned."

Qualifications Authority deputy chief executive assessment Kristine Kilkelly said the texts selected contained sufficient information and contrasting views, and include a range of specific language features.

She said the question only asks about the author's use of language, not the content of the article.

Student James Macey, 17, sat the exam yesterday and said National's accusations were absurd.

"It's really about the language used and the way that the author's written the text that the question's about, it wasn't trying to get the students to think one way or another."

He said the article was well balanced and in line with other questions - and was appropriate for the exam.

"[With] NCEA exams you get a wide variety of exam questions. They had an economics question this year about the removal of a petrol tax, so I don't think politicians should be too concerned about any biases that NZQA might or might not have."

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