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Failure To Tackle Drug Problem In Northland

Government Fails To Tackle Drug Problem In Northland Schools

Tuesday 7 May 2002

The Government has failed to reduce the number of suspensions for children in Northland, ACT Education Spokesman MP Donna Awatere Huata revealed today.

"The rate of children being caught with drugs in Northland schools has remained static - and the highest in the country - since Trevor Mallard became Education Minister. And the overall rate of suspension hasn't dropped at all.

"I am sick of politicians arguing that we should let some kids get away with more because of the area they come from. That's the same as saying we should give some children less education because their parents happen to be poor.

"Northland schools suspended 1,310 children last year - that's 14 children per every thousand students, more than double the national average of just 6 kids per 1,000.

"One hundred and sixty-six children were suspended for drug offences. The Northland rate of suspension for drug problems is triple the national average.

"The Government is trumpeting reduced suspension numbers for Gisborne. They have focussed on that area to the detriment of Northland, which is facing serious problems.

"Northland's kids aren't any naughtier than any other children in the country. Their over-burdened teachers deserve more support from the Minister, and we need a comprehensive campaign if we are to reduce the problems in Northland's schools," Mrs Awatere Huata said.

Ends

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