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Big boost for literacy

Education Minister Trevor Mallard today announced two funding injections supporting the Government's objectives to improve literacy among Maori and Pacific communities.

Trevor Mallard told Parliament that there would be an immediate injection of $1.5 million into the Books in Homes project and a further $256,000 into a research project to ensure that ready-made literacy materials are used well in classrooms.

"The funding for Books in Homes is a major boost in Government support for this programme. To put it into context, since1996 total government support has amounted to $3.37 million.

"This extra funding will buy about 260,000 more books to get into the homes of many more young, low income New Zealanders. About 60,000 are earmarked for the 15,000 children in the under-five programme and the rest are for school children. 10,000 of the books are from the popular Harry Potter series that has been a huge hit with young New Zealanders as well as their Mums and Dads. What's so good about Harry Potter books is that many children who have not been great readers have really enjoyed reading them.

"Eighteen new schools will join Books in Homes taking the number of children in the schools programme up to about 65,000 children. They will each receive three new books in Term 3 as a result of this funding.

"I have a lot of faith in the Books in Homes programme and I am pleased to be able to boost Government support for it."

Trevor Mallard said the research programme to look at incorporating ready-made literacy materials into classroom programmes was also targeted at low-decile schools.

"Schools are using a range of ready-made literacy materials, including the Sunshine literacy project which has been developed and evaluated with children in New Zealand schools, rainbow readers, tape assisted reading
Programme (TARP), Price Milburn and Jolly Phonics.

" I want to see if these materials fit with the curriculum and the way classrooms actually work. If they do, schools will not have to reinvent the wheel by creating their own resources. "
Trevor Mallard said the Government was committed to real and practical measures to improve literacy among all New Zealanders.

"It is a major aspect of our closing the gaps objective. For a young New Zealander to leave school and not know how to read is to condemn them to the dole queues. Literacy among Maori and pacific children needs particular attention.

"The International Literacy Survey results reveal that approximately 70% of adult Maori and 75% of adult Pacific peoples lack the minimum level of literacy required to cope at work and in daily life.

"In our schools, NEMP data shows that there are significant differences in reading and writing performance between students in decile 1 to 3 schools and students in middle or high decile schools. 40% of all Maori children and 55% of all Pacific children are in decile 1 and 2 schools.

"Alone, these initiatives I have announced today will not fix our extensive literacy problem. But they are small, important pieces of a large and complex jigsaw puzzle.

"As far as long term solutions are concerned, the findings of the recent Literacy Taskforce and Literacy Experts Group will be responded to with priority," Trevor Mallard said.

ends

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