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Another Year, Another Teacher Shortage?

Another Year, Another Teacher Shortage?

The Minister of Education must not allow another school year to start with insufficient teacher numbers, ACT Education Spokesman Donna Awatere Huata said today.

"At the end of 2001, I warned that a teacher shortage was looming, especially in Auckland. I warned that the problem would affect around 4,500 children. Mr Mallard accused me of "crying wolf", and was then caught out when kids turned up to school and found they didn't have a teacher. Based on his own estimates, 5,000 children were affected. Too proud to admit he had made a major error in forecasting student and teacher numbers, the Minister blamed "unexpected" factors such as a population blip, immigration and increased residential building in Auckland. Unexpected? If his Ministry even had the most rudimentary information-sharing system with other Government departments, all of those factors should have been forecast.

"Given the valid-sounding PPTA warning today that we are facing another teacher shortage at the beginning of 2003, Mr Mallard has some questions to answer.

"What has he done during this year to improve the accuracy of Ministry of Education forecasts of student and teacher numbers? Is the Ministry now sharing any information at all with other Government agencies? Has the Ministry monitored resource consents for residential building in Auckland this year? Have staff worked with the Ministry of Immigration to establish inflow and outflow numbers? And if so, how many teachers short will we be?

"At the beginning of 2002, it looked like the Education Minister had made a mistake. It was a big one, but not atypical of his stewardship of his portfolio. For him to make the same mistake twice shows not only that he is inept, but that he is actually negligent," Mrs Awatere Huata said.

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