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Truancy Service Doesn't Get An Extra Cent

Truancy Service Doesn't Get An Extra Cent

Friday, September 28 2001 Donna Awatere Huata Press Releases -- Education


Funding for the Non-Enrolment Truancy Service (NETS) hasn't been increased for five years despite long-term truancy figures soaring, ACT Education Spokesman MP Donna Awatere Huata revealed today.

"The service had to hunt for 1,000 more children last year than it did in 1997, but hasn't received a single extra cent. The $1.3m contract restricts NETS to finding a certain number of children each year.

"It is no wonder that hundreds of children aren't being found. This under-resourced, over-stretched service hasn't got a hope.

"We're not talking about kids who 'wag' a couple of days a year. These are children who have dropped out of one school and failed to enrol in another. Some of them go years and years without attending a day of school.

"Of great concern is the rise of primary-school aged referrals.

"Answers to parliamentary questions show that in 1997, NETS hunted for less than 700 children under the age of nine. By last year, that number had jumped to more than 900.

"Education Minister MP Trevor Mallard campaigned on reducing long-term truancy, yet his Government has done nothing.

"We need a central database that monitors all enrolments. Without one, these figures are just the tip of the iceberg: we have no way of knowing just how many children aren't part of the system.

"I have written to Mr Mallard, calling on him to implement the database that he promised to deliver when in Opposition.

"Mr Mallard's reported comment that he 'hoped to start a trial of a national index' for children aged between 15 and 17 at some vague point in the future is irresponsible.

"We need a full database, urgently. Otherwise, we will see more and more of our youngest children on the streets and in court. Long-term truancy has obvious links to child prostitution, crime and delinquency.

"This issue is not going away - I will continue this campaign until Mr Mallard introduces the central database that our children desperately need.

ENDS

Key Facts

Students are supposed to be referred to the Non-Enrolment Truancy Service (NETS) if teachers and principals note they have not attended school for longer than 20 days. In 2000, 257 students could not be found at all. NETS receives $1,331,750. This has remained unchanged for five years. Mr Mallard promised in 21 November 1999 that: 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.

Total Referrals

Year

Referrals

Under 9-year-olds

1997

3172

698

1998

3082

614

1999

4092

781

2000

4037

878

Referrals by Ministry of Education Region

Region

1999

2000

Auckland

1375

2146

Hamilton

614

783

Napier

190

230

Wanganui

292

451

Lower Hutt

367

500

Christchurch

139

184

Dunedin

108

142

Table information from Parliamentary Questions 13116, 13104, 13105, 13106, 13112, 13127 (2001); Parliamentary Question 008227 (1999)

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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