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Education System Cheats Maori Youth

ACT Education Spokesman Donna Awatere Huata today said that Maori students were being cheated by New Zealand’s education system.

“Thirty-five per cent of Maori students dropped out of secondary school in 1999 without any formal qualifications.

“Some principals and teachers are still setting their sights too low for Maori students. Its now twenty years since Peter Ramsey of Massey University found the connection between low expectations of teachers and low student achievement. Maori education needs higher expectations from all concerned.

“To top it all off, some teachers put Te Reo and Tikanga Maori ahead of the teaching of reading, writing and maths.

“The danger is that students will continue to leave school with only a smattering of Te Reo, and none of the basic skills that will get them ahead.

“Maori education needs a wider focus. Our students need Maori role-models within the education sector, and they need access to the best schools.

“Under zoning, they are cheated out of both. “Children must attend the school within their zone, whether it is good or bad. Many Maori come from low-income households with few options when it comes to education. Schools in poor areas find it extremely difficult to attract highly qualified teachers.

“We can only connect excellent teachers with the students who need them by abolishing zoning, by paying teachers according to their abilities and by giving parents real choice.

“Every child that leaves primary school should be able to read and write. Every pupil who leaves secondary school should be ready to work or enter further training.

“We must stop cheating our Maori students,” Mrs Huata said.


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