CITY OF MANUKAU EDUCATION TRUST
Ground breaking PWC Report proves Significant Economic Value of Family Literacy Programme
An average increase in each family’s wealth of $200.50 per week is one of the outcomes of a Manukau-based family
literacy programme, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC).
Tackling and solving education and social issues in Manukau, New Zealand’s second-largest city, is critical for national
economic development. In their report, released today, PWC quantifies the significant value of a unique family literacy
programme that has been running in Manukau City for the past three years. 70% of the adults enrolled in the programme
had no school qualifications. Since completing the programme 71% have had a reduced dependency on government agencies;
moreover 67% have gone onto further study.
The Manukau Family Literacy Programme, developed by COMET (City of Manukau Education Trust) in partnership with AUT, is
unique in that it breaks conventional models of education provision. It involves both parents and their children as
learners and it crosses the boundaries of early childhood, compulsory and tertiary education sectors, within a
To date, there have been a total of 85 families in the programme. 30% of the participants were Maori and 66% Pasifiika.
92% of those enrolled have gained a qualification – the Certificate in Introduction to Early Childhood Education – that
offers them a pathway out of poverty.
The PWC report highlights the significant success of the Manukau Family Literacy Programme model. Bernardine Vester, CEO
of COMET, says that the PWC report has been a ground breaker in that it is the first report of its kind in New Zealand.
“We are not aware of any other literacy programmes in New Zealand that have measured the longer-term economic value of
outcomes. 71% of these families were on a government benefit at the start. Following graduation, there has been a net
change of income of $200.50 per week, per family. Overall, the PWC report showed a significant return on investment of
$9.41 for every dollar over a staggered period of 30 years.”
“We know that there are 4000 families in the Manukau area alone where adults have no qualifications or low-level (fifth
form achievement only). We have up to 15 schools and early childhood centres wanting to initiate the programme in
Manukau, and have had interest from potential partners in Gisborne, Waikato, Northland and Hauraki,” says Vester.
Suzanne Snively, partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers said that "The success of the City of Manukau Education Trust (COMET)
Family Literacy Programme is that it focuses its resources on gaining experience about the best ways to engage with
people to improve literacy outcomes. An economic value of the outcomes of this programme has been estimated from the
survey of participants about the outcomes for them which included enrolment for further study, reduced requirement for
government-provided income support, increased children's aspirations and a number of other positive benefits. Based on
this, the conservative estimate of $9.41 gained for every dollar invested provides clear evidence that the investment by
COMET in this programme is a good one."
The PWC report refers to international research which has determined that key to the educational success of children is
the educational achievement of the mother or principal caregiver. “That is why the family-based cross-sector model which
focuses on educating adults, school children and younger children together is so important. COMET’s experience has shown
that ‘hard to reach parents’ can become highly motivated to become involved in learning that is relevant to their daily
responsibilities as parents,” says Vester.
“The PWC report records an increase in both the aspirations of the children and of the parents’ aspirations for their
children, with 38% showing a significant increase. Moreover the children’s school achievement can be expected to result
in reduced future welfare costs, a decrease in alternative education spending and an increase in their future income.”
The family literacy programme costs $14,118 per family for a year, compared to $11,100 for one youth on an alternative
COMET, in partnership with AUT, has an application into the TEC Foundation Learning Pool for $1.47 million to ensure
that a further 100 families can be offered the Manukau Family Literacy programme in 2007. A decision on the success of
this application is due on 15 November.