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Slipping education standards failing New Zealand

Slipping education standards failing New Zealand

National's Finance spokesman Don Brash says more young people will leave school with totally inadequate reading and writing skills unless the Government gets to grips with an ailing education system.

Dr Brash told the Visionschools Conference in Auckland today it's unacceptable that a system that used to pride itself in producing top achievers is failing so many young New Zealanders.

"We have some outstanding schools - and some extremely well educated people. But far too many people are coming out of 11 or even 13 years of schooling without even the rudiments of literacy or numeracy," said Dr Brash.

To back his claim, he used the recently released results of a 2001 survey which revealed that the reading skills of New Zealand nine-year-olds were the second worst among English-speaking countries.

Dr Brash told the Conference the solution was not a matter of more money and smaller classes.

"The issue is much broader - this Government has to address the lack of choice in education, the slipping standards of teacher training, the over-centralised control of the education system and the growing link between welfare dependency and educational failure."

Dr Brash strongly endorsed the comments made by Bill English this week that education is one of the best tickets out of poverty.

"Every child should have access to a high standard of education and we are committed to raising standards of literacy and numeracy. "National wants good teachers in the classrooms and a modern education system that gives parents and principals control of their schools, rather than bureaucrats and unions," said Dr Brash.

He told the audience these issues would be thoroughly canvassed in a discussion paper currently being prepared by National's Education spokesman, Dr Nick Smith.

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