INDEPENDENT NEWS

Getting children off the streets and back to class

Published: Mon 23 Sep 2002 02:10 PM
Getting primary age children off the streets and back into the classroom is the aim of a new programme being explored by the Aranui Community Renewal project.
The classroom based initiative is hoped to identify and assist children under 13 years of age who have not been able to fit into mainstream schooling and are not participating in correspondence school, said co-project manager, Ian McKenzie of the Christchurch City Council.
A work group looking at facilities and services for ‘Family, Youth and Child’ in Aranui has proposed that a programme be established for these children and their families, using the successful Te Kupenga o Aranui model for high school age students, Mr Mckenzie said.
Just as Te Kupenga students are linked to Aranui High School, it has been suggested that the younger programme be linked to Wainoni School. Principal, Jack Morris has offered 2.5 hours of a teacher’s time. “If other schools in the area could offer the same and it be backed up with funding for more teacher hours from the Ministry (of Education) we could really do something,” he says.
Representatives from the Ministry of Education have been involved in the working group’s meetings but no funding has yet been allocated to the project.
Debbie Hopkinson, truancy officer of Christchurch North East says working on the intiative is a case of “acting to help these children before its too late”. She says “the longer they are away from school, the harder it becomes to get them back there.”
The need to help Aranui’s children has come out of several community huis organised by the Aranui Community Renewal Project – a partnership between the Christchurch City Council, Housing New Zealand and the community. The work group for ‘Family, Youth and Child’ includes broad representation from the community and agencies including the Positive Directions Trust, which is spearheading the initiative for primary age children.

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