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Small Increase In School Rolls

10 May 2002

School rolls have increased 1.7 percent over the past year, with 728,681 pupils now enrolled in primary and secondary schools, Associate Education Minister Marian Hobbs said today.

Roll growth was highest in the Auckland region, accounting for 97 percent of the total increase in pupil numbers in the year to March 2002. The largest decrease in pupil numbers occurred in Taranaki.

The impacts of declining birth numbers are being felt in the primary sector, with year one to six rolls declining over the past year. In contrast, the number of secondary students increased by 3.6 per cent, almost double the increase in the previous year, with foreign fee-paying students a major contributing factor.

Marian Hobbs said the government has a number of successful initiatives underway to ensure an adequate supply of quality secondary teachers to cover the increasing students numbers.

"We have a range of schemes operating that are proving successful in increasing the number of quality teachers in our secondary schools," Marian Hobbs said. "These include a free retraining programme to get teachers not currently teaching back into the profession, recruitment incentives to attract teachers who are overseas to return to teach in New Zealand, scholarships to attract people into teaching specialist subjects like maths and computing, and to attract more Maori and Pacific Islanders into teaching."

The proportion of pupils attending state schools declined slightly over the past year, as more students favoured private or integrated schools. At March 1, 2002, 85.8 percent of all primary and secondary students attended state schools, down from 86.1 percent in the previous year.

After strong growth in the mid-1990s, participation in Maori medium education appears to have levelled off. At March 1, 2002, there were 27,617 students involved in Maori medium education, 756 fewer than the previous year. Much of the decrease in Maori medium education numbers can be attributed to lower participation by non-Maori in bilingual education.

The number of foreign fee paying students has tripled from 4697 in 1998 to 14,026 in 2002. The Auckland region hosts the largest number of foreign fee-paying students, 57 percent of the country's total.

Ends

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