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Maori Education Advocate Calls For Trustee Support

Attached and following is a media release from the New Zealand School Trustees Association Conference.

Media Release

Maori education advocate calls for trustee support

School trustees are being asked to help influence change in an education system that is failing Maori students.

Speaking at today’s New Zealand School Trustees Association conference in Hamilton, Maori education advocate John Rangiteremauri Heremia called on trustees to use their position as one of the most influential groups in education to drive changes to the education system that will benefit Maori students.

“The education system needs overhauling because it does not support Maori achievement. Instead of blaming the victims of the system – the students – we need to look at the root cause,” he says.

John Heremia, who is principal of Te Wharekura o Rakaumanga, a composite bilingual school in Huntly, says Maori make up only 30 percent of the New Zealand population.

“Yet more Maori than non-Maori are leaving school without a qualification, more Maori are dropping out before Year 13, more Maori are suspended or expelled and Maori are less likely to go on to tertiary study.

“The results for Maori speak volumes about the education system.”

John Heremia says the situation is retrievable but only through community-driven affirmative Maori education strategies. “Community support acknowledges that these changes are beneficial not only for Maori, but also for society.”

At Rakaumanga in Huntly, community action has sparked a phenomenal turnaround in student achievement.

Driven by parental dissatisfaction with the current system, affirmative Maori education strategies were introduced at Rakaumanga in 1979. At that time only 5% of students had passed one School Certificate subject, 2.5% of students had gone on to tertiary study and there was no record of any students having studied through to the end of their 7th form year – Year 13.

Since 1997 Rakaumanga has had 70% of all students who sat School Certificate passing four or more subjects, 80% of students complete Year 13 and 70% of students go on to tertiary study. Since 1997 all students who graduate from the school are bilingual and biliterate.

“Our school is supported by community involvement and a teaching and learning programme that is suited to Maori. Among our 400 students, we have students from Invercargill and Kaitaia because they believe in our philosophy. We don’t have a geographical catchment area, we have a philosophical one.”


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