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Education Ministry Database Breaks Down

Monday 15 Oct 2001 Donna Awatere Huata Press Releases -- Education

The Ministry of Education's student-tracking system is in such disarray that it is no longer possible to predict truancy numbers, ACT Education Spokesman Donna Awatere Huata revealed today.

"In response to a standard parliamentary question asking how many students are expected to be referred to the long-term truancy service next year, Education Minister Trevor Mallard said he was "unable" to make any predictions at all. This comes just a week after he had to correct three answers because his database had a 'mathematical miscalculation'.

"Mr Mallard has allowed the truancy monitoring system to degenerate to a point where it is almost impossible for him to extract any useful information at all.

"This highlights more than ever the need for a central, comprehensive database that will ensure our children are enrolled in school.

"Mr Mallard shuts down media stories by making vague promises that he is working on creating a trial database for some 15-17 year-old students by the end of this year.

"That is a blatant lie. There are only a few weeks of the school year left. It would be completely implausible to start a database by tracking students who are in the middle of their exams. Figures show that our youngest kids are more and more at risk of dropping out. How many more twelve-year-olds does Mr Mallard want charged with murder before he lifts a finger?

"Not only has Mr Mallard broken his pre-election promise by doing absolutely nothing, he has allowed the current databases to get worse and worse. In October 1999, the database worked well enough for then-Education Minister Nick Smith to accurately predict the number of long-term truants for 2000. But now this tracking system is so run down that Mr Mallard cannot make any accurate predictions at all for the exact same length of time in the future.

"We know that long-term truancy is soaring. Referrals to the Non-Enrolment Truancy Service have increased by 1,000 in five years. We also know that more and more primary-school aged kids are completely dropping out of school.

"If we are going to make any kind of difference here, we need a database. Firstly, it will ensure we can get every kid into school. And secondly, it will provide us with enough information to make accurate predictions into the future, so we can adjust resources and funding accordingly," Mrs Awatere Huata said.

ENDS

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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