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Diversity An Answer To Truancy Question

Diversity An Answer To Truancy Question

"New Zealanders should not be surprised by Chief Youth Court Judge Andrew Becroft's strongly worded statements on truancy - and the situation will only get worse," ACT New Zealand Education Spokesman Deborah Coddington said today.

"Labour has not increased funding for the Non-Enrolment Truancy Service for years - despite 30 per cent of youth crimes being committed by truant children," Miss Coddington said.

"We spend a pittance on NETS. Truancy officers are paid part-time, but work fulltime. In the face of such odds, they get good results. We must consider why two-thirds of correspondence students are at risk. Are they averse to education, or resistant to school?

"British and Dutch researchers are looking at why children don't want to go to school. They find that the state-owned, one-size-fits-all model does not suit all children. While some children are truants, they are not bad. However, without the benefits of an education, they become society's losers and often start out on a career of crime.

"If we put more resources into these children, instead of waiting until it's too late, we would save masses of taxpayers' dollars and immeasurable grief when they end up in court on murder, manslaughter or other serious criminal charges.

"One educationist I interviewed in Amsterdam has worked on tailoring education to suit the child. Rather than putting teenagers all together in classes of 30 - with the teacher the only adult present - technology can be used to link children with the community and other adults.

"In the 19^th Century, before the state became overly involved in education, children were educated in diverse ways - in school, church, business, the courts, and artists' studios. With the advantages of the internet and interactive technology, bored students could be stimulated to learn, and attain the education standards needed to enter the workforce.

"There is also a need for tough love, for irresponsible parents who do not ensure their children attend school. In England, a mother who refused for two years to send her teenage daughters to school was jailed for 14 days. There was an outcry until she was released. She agreed with the authorities - her daughters should be at school. `Everyone needs an education' the mother told the media.

"Teachers rely on parents to get their children to school. While prosecuting all parents is not the answer, it's illegal to refuse your child an education. It's time Labour also looked at sending irresponsible parents a tough warning and stopped putting all the blame on `the authorities,'" Miss Coddington said.

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