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Labour's Legacy: The Education Gap

Labour's Legacy: The Education Gap

The Minister of Education must respond to new international research showing New Zealand has the second biggest gulf in educational achievement in the developed world, ACT Education Spokesman Donna Awatere Huata said today.

Mrs Awatere Huata, author of `The Reading Race: How every child can learn to read', said the United Nations research provides a searing indictment on the Government's bureaucratic education monopoly.

"Minister of Education Trevor Mallard must be ashamed to be the politician responsible for our plummet of ten places in the league of equal achievement. If he's not, I can tell him that I'm ashamed for him. Today one-in-ten people between 16 and 25 years-old cannot read. How bad are things going to get before politicians like Mr Mallard admit Soviet-style Government control of the education system is a complete failure?

"Every piece of research proves that the kids who are missing out on decent education in New Zealand are the children from low income families. The Labour Government has written these kids off. Labour has consolidated an elitist, self-serving myth that kids from low income families are inferior, and should aim to survive rather than hope to thrive.

"After exactly three years of control, the Education Minister's legacy is a bunch of uneducated children who will be locked into poverty and dependence on the state for the rest of their lives.

"If we are sincere about wanting to reduce inequality, we need to dump the bigotry of low expectations for children from low-income backgrounds. We must recognise that one centralised education system does not serve the needs of every child. What is needed is School Choice: a system that opens up education to competition and provides communities with a range of educational options. This has worked overseas. It has worked in New Zealand in preschools. Only ideology stops us from making the change in the compulsory school sector.

"If we truly needed any more evidence that education is too important to leave in the clammy hands of bureaucrats and politicians, this research surely provides it," Mrs Awatere Huata said.

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