UNESCO role for NZ educator

30 August 2018
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Associate Professor Carol Mutch

Associate Professor Carol Mutch from the University of Auckland has been appointed New Zealand Commissioner – Education for UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation).

Her appointment was announced by Associate Education Minister Jenny Salesa after approval by the Cabinet’s Appointment and Honours Committee.

She joins five other New Zealand commissioners who act as ambassadors for UNESCO, supporting the organisation’s global activities and distributing UNESCO funds to projects based here.

“I am thrilled with this opportunity. UNESCO’s work fits within my own beliefs around social justice and how we can make the world a better place,” she says.

Dr Mutch is taking three decades of education experience into the role, ranging from teaching and deputy principal positions to policy advising, educating teachers and researching at the university’s Faculty of Education and Social Work.

“This has given me an eclectic portfolio which means I will bring a holistic and broad perspective of education to the commission.”

In recent years her research has focused on the role of schools in disaster zones around the world, including in her home region of Canterbury where she worked with school staff and students following the Christchurch earthquakes.

“UNESCO has always had an interest in post disaster and post conflict societies so I feel I’ve got a lens onto these scenarios that might be very helpful,” she says.

Her work in Christchurch also gave her first-hand experience of UNESCO funding in New Zealand when she was offered money by the organisation to help schools stricken by the quakes.

“Without that funding our work in Christchurch would never have happened – schools were too busy dealing with traumatized families and children. The money from UNESCO meant I could go into schools and get projects off the ground that would help everyone move forward,” says Dr Mutch.

Her past experience has also included teaching work overseas, in Asia and the Pacific, and post disaster work in Nepal, Japan, Australia, Vanuatu and Samoa. “These countries are our immediate UNESCO neighbours so having an understanding of what links can be made and what support can be given is going to be very useful,” says Dr Mutch.

“And it is very gratifying that my global wanderings have actually found a home.”