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ACT MP Wins Inquiry Into Reading

ACT Education spokesman Donna Awatere Huata has today won a three-year battle for a full scale Select Committee inquiry into the teaching of reading in New Zealand schools.

Mrs Huata said Parliament's Education Select Committee had today voted unanimously to accept her proposal for the inquiry that will investigate and report to Parliament on the teaching of reading and, in particular, closing the literacy gap between Maori students and the general population.

In 1998 Mrs Huata published the book 'Zero Tolerance' that highlighted the severe problems schools were having with the teaching of reading.

"Reading is the most basic building block for education. We have ignored reading for too long and now have a situation where one in four of our children leave school without the ability to read properly.

"The sheer scale of illiteracy in this country has seen us go from being the top teachers of reading to the top teachers of reading recovery.

"The problem lies with the 'whole language' approach to reading that replaced phonics in our schools. The reality is that whole language has been a disastrous experiment visited on our children. The approach misses the very basics of reading so children can't even sound out words, they simply have to guess at them by looking at the pictures.

"We need to get into schools and investigate how we can ensure every child has the right to read," said Donna Awatere Huata.


For more information visit ACT online at or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at

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