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Ministry of Education 'Loses' Hundreds of Children

Ministry of Education 'Loses' Hundreds of Children

Thursday, September 27 2001 Donna Awatere Huata Press Releases -- Education

The Ministry of Education has completely lost track of hundreds of children who don't attend school, ACT Education Spokesman MP Donna Awatere Huata revealed today.

Figures obtained by Mrs Awatere Huata highlight an urgent need for a system to keep track of children who drop out of one school and don't enrol in another.

"In 1999, Trevor Mallard vowed to create a central database to ensure every child is enrolled and part of the system. Nothing has happened.

"Answers to my parliamentary questions show that of 4,037 children referred to NETS last year, not a trace could be found of 257 children. In just the first two terms of this year, another 1906 kids were referred. Eighty-five of them could not be located.

"These kids are only even looked for if conscientious teachers and principals notice their disappearance and alert the Non-Enrolment Truancy Service (NETS).

"This is not a case of a system failing - it is a case of absolutely no system existing.

"I have written to Mr Mallard and his associate Ministers, calling on them to create a central database of primary and secondary enrolments. I hope that Mr Mallard will honour the pledge he made on 21 November 1999, when he said:

Labour will establish a central records database which will be used for schools to pass information on as children move around. It will be able to show quickly when a child leaves a school without re-enrolling at another .

"This idea was recommended by the 1995 Children at Risk Report. If we are serious about giving our children the best possible start in life - and we are - then we must move urgently.

"We shouldn't have to rely on over-burdened teachers to call families and alert NETS.

"After almost two years in office, Mr Mallard's 'hopes' to start a brief trial of a database monitoring 15-17 year-olds, some time in the future. That's not enough. We have kids as young as six and seven dropping out.

"ACT believes every child deserves a fair start in life. New Zealanders will not tolerate our young kids being allowed to slip through the cracks," Mrs Awatere Huata said.

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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