When it comes to caring for international students, New Zealand almost always comes up tops. Recently, after several incidents of high-profile drownings, it has done it again with a new water safety course for international students in New Zealand.
Water Safety New Zealand (WSNZ), an association of members in the water safety sector, has partnered with edtech firm AgentBee to offer the new online course, which covers topics from cold water survival to beach and river safety, as well as the Water Safety code and tips for getting help.
WSNZ CEO Jonty Mills said, “Sadly, the data shows that international students in New Zealand are at particular risk of drowning.
“By working with AgentBee we can ensure that more international students coming here understand the basics of water safety specific to New Zealand conditions.”
The high risk of drowning by international students in New Zealand has led to calls for more awareness and action to prevent further incidents from happening in the future.
International students are still not allowed back into the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so this online course is offered to education agents who can pass on key information to international students and their families. The course will also emphasise the role of an education agent as a potential lifesaver for international students.
Education agents will receive a personalised certificate of completion after taking the online course.
AgentBee’s Geoff Field said, “Education agents are responsible for recruiting almost 50 percent of international students who enrol in New Zealand’s universities.”
“Agents deal face-to-face with students and their families before they leave their home countries, so they present a great opportunity to start early messaging on water safety.”
International students are at risk of drowning in New Zealand
There have been several cases of international students drowning in New Zealand. In January this year, a 26-year-old student from the Philippines died while swimming with friends on holiday in Whangarei, north of Auckland.
Kenny Espinosa was swimming at Whangarei Falls when he began struggling and failed to resurface.
In December 2019, Indian national Aman Kumar, a student at Air Hawke’s Bay flight school in Bridge Pā, drowned at a popular Hawke’s Bay waterfall after diving into the water.
A Malaysian student also drowned in February 2017 at Lake Karapiro after reportedly posing for a photo while floating in the water. Abdul Amzar Azim Azmi was a mechanical engineering student at Waikato University.
Later that year in December, 21-year old Akhil Tangri from India was found dead in the water at Maori Bay near Muriwai, West Auckland. Akhil and two of his friends were swept away by the high tide while swimming, but only two of them survived.