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Focus on the basics

Gerry Brownlee National Education Spokesperson

28 September 2001

Focus on the basics

The proliferation of the school curriculum has to take some of the blame for the appalling demise in New Zealand's literacy standards and the effect that could have on our economic future, National's Education spokesperson Gerry Brownlee said today.

"The reality is New Zealand has taken its eye off the ball in literacy over the years and we need to get that focus back in our schools. Out with the politically correct curriculum and in with the basics."

Today's Christchurch Press reports Sir Angus Tait as saying that New Zealand's economic future is jeopardised by abysmal standards of literacy displayed by students and university graduates. Canterbury University has passed a motion voicing concern at the accumulating evidence of the inadequate literacy level of graduating high school students and has called on the Government for remedial action.

"National started the Literacy and Numeracy strategy, which is achieving some good results with primary school children. The next step is to free schools from an overly prescriptive and broad curriculum.

"Teachers are required to fill the school day with a smorgasbord of learning. I have to question how many curriculum areas are actually being well taught when there is so much to cover.

"The focus for the first five years of a child's schooling should be on literacy and numeracy. Schools should be able to choose what other subjects they want to cover in their curriculum, based on what's relevant to their pupils and to their community.

"In every school in New Zealand, getting every child to do the basics well should be the top goal," Mr Brownlee said.

Ends


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