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School staff set to march for living wage

24 March 2014

School staff set to march for living wage

Thousands of school staff from the wider Auckland area will rally in Queen Street this Saturday to call on the Government to address the problems of poverty facing schools.

The rally comes in the wake of the Prime Minister’s announcement of $359 million to boost the number of managers in schools.

Sara Rogers who is Chair of NZEI Auckland Area Council says there is a groundswell of community concern about poverty and its impact on children’s learning.

“The Commissioner for Children’s Report and the University of Otago’s child poverty monitor, show that one in four kiwi kids are growing up in income poverty. One in six are going without basic essentials like fresh fruit and vegetables, a warm house, decent shoes and visits to the Doctor. In schools we see the impact of that poverty every day.”

Sara Rogers says that rather than throwing millions of dollars at a small number of executive principals and lead teachers, Government would be better investing directly into homes and classrooms.

“The Government’s $359 million dollars could be going to finance a living wage for the parents of all children. That would have a significant impact on the lives of those children whose Mums and Dads are struggling to get by on low wages.”

“All the evidence shows that the greatest contributor to underachievement in schools is poverty. We know there are no quick fixes and that each child and every family circumstance is different. That means we need to be attacking poverty in a range of ways but putting money into the pockets of more managers is not one of them.”

Sara Rogers also points to an army of support staff in schools who are paid rates close to the minimum wage. Many of these staff are teacher aides helping high needs children.

“The Government has repeatedly rejected paying these important people a living wage,” says Sara Rogers.

School staff are inviting parents and others to join the ‘Living Wage for Learning’ march that will gather at Queen Elizabeth Square at 11.30 am on Saturday 29th before the rally at Aotea Square.

ENDS

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