We believe that our CEC communities will be increasingly recognised as important partners in improving education if they ensure active and authentic participation through bringing diverse voices to the table and ensuring funded activities are responsive to the aspirations of whānau, hapu and iwi.
The CEC groups tell us that active and authentic participation is all about people and relationships and the creation of trust and belonging. They are there to facilitate, coach and mentor. Helping people with their self determination and pride in who they are unlocks their aspirations, gives them permission to go out there and achieve those aspirations. Most groups actively work with whānau so they can take ownership. That builds further trust, particularly with young people.
Moreover, creating their own theory of change and building leadership helps the groups be future-focussed.
Activities that groups use to create active and authentic participation include interviews, regular ongoing meetings, having good representation from rangatahi on their board. They make sure events open after hours. They hold lots of meetings, involve people from all ages, work alongside other organisations to bring in other voices and they are present at lost of community events as well. Lots of leaders and staff from the CEC groups sit on a lot of other groups so they are constantly receiving information about what is going on it their communities.
Our groups also actively remove barriers to participation. They take people out of their worlds and into new worlds, like taking young people to parliament and giving them opportunities to participate in ways they may not have imagined. They advocate for people to be involved in what is happening in their community and broker their participation.
Some of the groups told us about moments when education providers realised that the CEC activities were engaging whanau in a really meaningful way and wanted to get involved or wanted to invite the CEC group to the table. Some got offers of co-funding for planned activities. We heard that one teacher said "this is the first time I really understand my students and feel close to them“ after a CEC activity