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Education is the Circuit-Breaker

“Education is the Circuit-Breaker”

A response to Budget 2016

Roana Bennett, General Manager of Te Taumata o Ngati Whakaue Trust said “I’m pleased to see the focus on early childhood, vulnerable families and pathways for young people into employment and apprenticeships. These are flash-points for our country’s social and economic progress. So I agree with the budget allocations at a high level. The test will be how effectively government can deploy the allocation at the community level.

“The statistical evidence is clear that learners that come from the most vulnerable homes are the least the likely to achieve academically. But statistical evidence is also clear that education is the circuit breaker for inter-generational unemployment and poverty.

“The budget has a raft of educational, employment and social initiatives targeting vulnerable families such as increasing the number of teacher aides, investing in New Zealand’s children and families, and whanau ora. The key is to ensure that the effort that goes into these families are focussed on educational outcomes. Education is not well articulated as a desired outcome in social policy and New Zealand is being let down because if it.

“Social needs, health issues, inadequate housing, unemployment within the family – these are all barriers to learners engaging in education. When you flip the funding model around and education becomes the focus, change happens. Here at that the Taumata we know from experience that families will engage and work hard to improve their lives when the focus is their child’s education. Social services that focus on problems and issues are out-of-date and those services will NOT achieve sustainable results.

“I’m very pleased to see stronger support for trade training and apprenticeships. A trade is a pathway to a fulfilling sustainable career. Many of our Maori men now in their fifties and sixties went through trades apprenticeships as young adults and are now supporting three or four generations of whanau. However a word of caution. Trade training and apprenticeships should not be confused with initiatives for vulnerable or at risk learners. That’s a separate kaupapa altogether. To be successful at a trade or in an apprenticeship you need to have a good solid grounding in literacy and numeracy and well-established learning and work habits. We need our best and brightest to aim towards apprenticeships. This is a point the policy makers seem to miss.

“What else would I like to have seen in the Budget? First, incentives for employers to take on apprentices – this would ensure buy-in by employers and lead to increased apprenticeship opportunities for rangatahi. And second, all youth services moved under the Ministry of Education to ensure that educational outcomes is the number one focus.”


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