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Principal's absence at Maori Education summit

21st Century Education – The Waipareira Way

Summit 2008
Trust Stadium, Waitakere City
16 -18 April 2008

Press Release.

Principal's absence questioned at Maori Education summit

Over 200 people attended the first day of the 21st Century Education Summit, however of the 93 schools in the Waitakere City region only three Principals from local schools were in attendance.

The aim of the summit is to bring together Maori educationalists from around New Zealand to discuss ways to solve Maori underachievement. Principals from every school in the region were personally invited and their lack of interest has sent very clear signals to the Maori community.

"It shows us that Principals do not want to engage with Maori - when they are invited into Maori territory they do not want to connect. If that is the case commitment to Maori comes down to a carving on the school entrance and it's a one-way road," said Te Whanau o Waipareira Trust CEO John Tamihere.

The hui was called in the wake of research that painted a very grim picture of the status of education in West Auckland. Over 65% of new jobs in the Auckland region in the past year required a degree. Only 2% of the new jobs were for unqualified workers. Last year 86% of Maori school leavers did not have enough qualifications to get into any form of tertiary study.

"In 20 years time one in five workers will be Maori. Our economy and our security will depend in large measure on whether those Maori workers are contributing positively to the economy. Maori and non-Maori are at a crossroads and we all have to play our part in finding the right solution. " he said.

In 1970 Maori were tested and judged the best readers in the world. By 1996 the international adult literacy survey showed that 60%of Maori adults were functionally illiterate.

"What is really unacceptable is that researchers have found solutions that can lift our children's performance into the top two thirds. Research also shows that Maori kids perform better when they connect with their teachers. Principals can no longer blame a child's home life for underachievement. Their refusal to engage just shows that they are part of the problem." Tamihere said.

Tired of an apathetic system Te Whanau o Waipareira will take matters into their own hands and will run an annual score card on all West Auckland schools performance. Parents will be able to see how well a school rates and vote with their feet.

The summit that has included speakers such as Professor Russell Bishop, Literacy expert Professor Tom Nicholson as well as Principals from schools whose programmes are succeeding in helping children achieve. The summit will conclude at 1pm on Friday 18 April.


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