INDEPENDENT NEWS

The Face of the Crisis: Young, Poor and Brown

Published: Fri 19 Oct 2001 12:19 AM
The Face of the Crisis: Young, Poor and Brown
Friday 19 Oct 2001 Donna Awatere Huata Press Releases -- Education
Children allowed to drop out of school are almost three times as likely to come from poverty-stricken schools than wealthy schools, ACT Education Spokesman MP Donna Awatere Huata revealed today.
"Answers to parliamentary questions reveal a snapshot of the human face of the education system's failings: it is young, poor and brown.
"The Minister of Education granted 3,246 'exemptions' last year, compared to 314 in 1993. An 'exemption' is a certificate from the Government guaranteeing a child he never has to return to school in his life. It is a cop-out - a way to get rid of kids the Government wants to ignore.
"Maori children received thirty percent of last year's exemptions. Statistically, they should only account for half that figure. Kids at decile one and two schools - the poorest - got almost three times as many exemptions as decile nine and ten schools.
"The Minister of Education campaigned on reducing drop-out figures. Yet answers to my parliamentary questions show that Mr Mallard has no intention of reducing the number of 'exemptions' he hands out next year.
"The number of 'exemptions' is a clear indication of how the entire education system is working. If resources are adequate, children don't reach the stage where the only option is to boot them out on the street.
"The young, poor, brown kids getting these exemptions are yesterday's truants, yet the Minister won't introduce a central monitoring system to reduce long-term truancy. They are tomorrow's beneficiaries and criminals, yet this Government would rather ignore them than educate them.
"Increasing directed resources and funding will help every New Zealand child. Ignoring some of those children doesn't make them go away," Mrs Awatere Huata said.
From Parliamentary Questions 14230, 13419: * 3,246 'exemptions' were granted last year, up from 314 in 1993. * Maori accounted for 889 of those exemptions. * Decile One and Two (the poorest) schools accounted for 569 * Decile Nine and Ten (the wealthiest) schools accounted for 214
For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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