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Mallard buries his head in the sand on literacy

Mallard buries his head in the sand on literacy

National is accusing the Education Minister of ignoring a literacy crisis which it says is crippling the learning ability of young New Zealanders, especially boys.

"It's unbelievable that Trevor Mallard's approach to the study, which puts the reading skills of our primary school children second worst among English-speaking countries, is to trumpet it as a success" says National's Education spokesman, Nick Smith.

"The fact that Massey University reading expert, James Chapman, has described as "disastrous" the plummet in our literacy position - from first in 1970 to 13th out of 36 countries - shows how out of touch Mr Mallard is.

"These results prove the foolishness of Labour dumping National's 1998 goal of having all 9-year-olds able to read, write and do maths by 2005.

"The first decision Trevor Mallard made when he became Education Minister was to stop national assessment in literacy and numeracy, despite this being done in every state of Australia and in most parts of England and the US.

"Both England and the United States rank higher than New Zealand in this study; England is third on the list.

"As long as Trevor Mallard continues to ignore the recommendations of the Education and Science Select Committee into literacy, New Zealand will reap the consequences of these disastrous results through increased welfare dependency, crime and poor economic performance.

"What the study highlights are the appalling inequities in our education system - like the gap between our boys and girls being worst equal with Iran and Belize.

"National wants New Zealand back at the top of the literacy rankings. This calls for better teacher education standards, honest assessment of children's literacy as they progress through school and a much greater investment in programmes like reading recovery," says Dr Smith.

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