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Increased Funding for Alternative Education

The Government has beefed up its efforts to help young teenagers who have become alienated from their local schools to resurrect their education.

Education Minister Trevor Mallard today released details of a budget initiative to make alternative education programmes available to an extra 820 students, making room for a total of 1,820 students. The programmes target young people between 13 and 15.

The funding increase of $34.82 million for alternative education over the next four years makes a commitment of $20 million a year for the programmes.

The Minister made the announcement during a visit to Invercargill today. He visited the alternative education programme run at the YMCA Workstation. The Murihiku Marae also works in partnership with local schools to provide alternative education. Under the policy announced today, there will be funding for another six students in Invercargill to take part in alternative education from the start of Term 3.

“The Government is deeply concerned about young people, especially Maori and Pacific students and children from families in tough financial situations, who are missing out on education,” Trevor Mallard said.

“We are determined to close the gaps in educational achievement and life outcomes between disadvantaged groups and mainstream New Zealanders.

“Alternative education is now making real inroads towards helping young people who have dropped out. These are people who are no longer willing to attend a regular school, and schools are unwilling to have them in their regular classrooms. Many of them have been excluded from several schools.”

Trevor Mallard said about 270 secondary schools were already involved in the Alternative Education initiative.

The funding is paid to the schools, which generally work with a community provider to provide the teaching off-campus. Often, several schools work in partnership with two or more community providers. Sometimes, community groups such as Territorial Local Authorities or Marae committees also get involved.

“This additional funding will open up access to alternative education. Many programmes which are already running will be extended, allowing more young people to get places on courses, and the Ministry of Education will set up new contracts with individual schools and groups of schools.

“In many ways this policy acts as an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. It gives young people an extra chance to become re-involved in the education system and improves the life chances for young people who would otherwise be seriously at risk of educational and social disadvantage. It also means they are less likely to become a burden on society.

“Alternative Education programmes are a stepping stone back to mainstream education in a regular school, or onto a Youth Training Programme or into the work force. Although it is early days yet, we are already hearing about students who are achieving significant success.”

“By extending and accelerating the implementation of this policy, this Government is recognising an urgent need. Three-quarters of the 820 extra student places will be available to schools from Term 3 this year. This means, far fewer schools and students will have to wait until next year.

“Secondary schools have previously been advised of their likely allocations of student places, and I am pleased to announce that the Ministry will now be offering many of them the opportunity to get programmes started sooner than originally thought.

“Because of the very positive response, the Ministry anticipates that most secondary schools will take up this offer and that additional programmes will become available from early in Term 3 this year and that they should all be underway by Term 1 next year.”

ends

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