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School closures are bad for the health

Friday, July 02, 2004

News Release

School closures are bad for the health

School closures can be bad for the health - the health of individuals, families and the community, according to geographer Robin Kearns.

Speaking at the Public Health Conference in Christchurch, Dr Kearns said that school closures or 'mergers' cause 'traumatic interruptions' to individual and family routines and to community services.

'They have a major impact on decisions by workers such as doctors and share-milkers about whether to move to or stay in an area,' he said.

Drawing on interviews with 46 interviews with members of a school community in Invercargill, and 29 interviews with members of six rural school communities in Taranaki, Dr Kearns said they found deep anxieties about the long-term sustainability of people's communities and way of life.

He pointed out that something as simple as when the children leave and get home on the school bus can disrupt farming routines, such as when parents begin the milking and who's in the house for safety and supervision.

'Wider impacts include deep disillusionment with the one-size-fits-all approach to schools, as though money and computers are the only hallmark of a good education,' he said.

'In public health terms, a school closure means a loss of a place for community interaction. The drawn-out process causes immense stress.'

ENDS

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