Teachers helping students achieve despite shameful poverty
The National Government should be hanging its head in shame at the disgraceful figures on child poverty, says NZEI
National President Ian Leckie.
Research from the Ministry of Social Development shows that an increasing number of children are living in poverty and
that 50 percent of children in poverty are now classed as living in chronic poverty.
The Household Incomes in New Zealand: Trends in Indicators in Inequality and Hardship 1982 to 2011 has shown that 60
percent of children in poverty are Maori.
“All this, in New Zealand - a supposedly first world country. How does anyone expect a sick, cold and hungry child from
a family under enormous financial pressure to learn?” Ian Leckie says.
“Our teacher and principal members know only too well the effect of poverty on a kid’s learning. Sick children cannot
come to school and if they do, learning is difficult. Only the other day one of our principals in a decile one school
talked about a child at her school who was hospitalised with school sores because the parents could not afford to take
the child to a doctor.”
The Ministry of Health has also announced it will target the rise in rheumatic fever – a preventable disease associated
“It makes us the laughing stock of the rest of the developed world where this disease is virtually unknown now,” says
“Our teachers are constantly cleaning up the mess created by this government. The kids come to school and get fed, get
to go on school trips even if they don’t have the money and still get a world-beating education.
“Given that poverty and inequality are key indicators of student under-achievement, it is a credit to our teachers that
we have been able to help kids achieve.”
New Zealand Educational Institute
NZEI Te Riu Roa members work in every community in New Zealand, leading and advocating for quality public education.
We are the 50,000 principals, teachers and support staff who work in primary, area and secondary schools as well as
early childhood centres, special education and school advisory services. We come together as NZEI Te Riu Roa - New
Zealand's largest education union, a Treaty based organisation and a powerful advocate for quality public education.
We have the most important job in New Zealand - educating for the future.