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Education Gaps Show Need for Zero Tolerance

Education Gaps Show Need for Zero Tolerance Policies

Media Release 9 August 2005

For Immediate Release

Figures in The New Zealand Herald on Monday August 8 illustrating large gaps between Mâori and Pakeha in tertiary education call for a zero tolerance approach, says business school director Keith Ikin.

“Differences between educational outcomes for Maori and non-Maori are serious. The old policies and approaches just aren’t working, while recent experience suggests the best way to address these differences is through a multifaceted response that refuses to tolerate failure,” says Ikin.

Ikin is director of the School of Sustainable Business Management, part of Te Wananga o Aotearoa. He feels that the innovative approaches to education developed by Te Wananga o Aotearoa demonstrate how effective education can be. The approach of the Wananga has arisen out of an understanding that old policies and institutions are failing Maori, and not the other way round.

“There is no reason to build failure into the system, as traditional universities have done,” says Ikin. “Instead, as providers we can recognise that students love to learn when they are given a real chance. That’s why the retention rates for the Wananga are so much better than those for polytechnics and universities.”

As the director of Te Wânanga o Aotearoa’s School of Sustainable Business Management, Ikin is concerned the contribution of Wânanga to positive educational outcomes is being lost in the current political environment.

“It’s vital that we recognise how significant Te Wananga o Aotearoa has been in the lives of thousands of students,” says Ikin. “Not just Mâori students, but Pakeha and other student groups as well.”

The Director of Te Wananga o Aotearoa’s business school points to figures showing the participation of Mâori students in tertiary education is 20%, compared with a participation rate for the rest of New Zealand’s population at just 13%.

Says Ikin: “Government’s own figures show that much of this improvement can be attributed to the Wananga. It is an accomplishment that we can be very proud of but we must go further. There is simply too much at stake for Mâori and for New Zealand in general.”

On the negative side of the ledger, Ikin points to statistics showing that only six percent of degree students in New Zealand are Maori. “Here at the Wananga” says Ikin, “we have worked very hard to turn these figures around by staircasing students from lower level certificate and diploma level studies into degree level education.”

“It is an approach that is working. It will take a long time to turn around decades of failed policies, but we are confident that we are on the right track,“ says Ikin.


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