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Govt breaks promises on truancy

Govt breaks promises on truancy

The National Party says the Government is giving up on trying to educate a small army of young New Zealanders with a decision to abandon a central records database to track school attendance.

"Truancy will now inevitably continue to rise", says National's Education spokesman Nick Smith.

"The Government is also abandoning its 1999 and 2002 election promises.

"The establishment of this database was Labour's number one commitment to schools in its manifesto and repeats similar commitments in its 1996 policy package.

"It's extraordinary that in the very week that the Chief Family Court Judge highlighted truancy in a third of cases involving youth offending, that the Government abandons any commitment to tackle the root cause.

"So much for Labour and its 2003 slogan 'honouring our word'.

"It speaks volumes about the value Government puts on getting children to school that we track our 1.3 million cars with an annual registration system, we track individuals with IRD numbers for collecting tax, we track property owners for collecting rates, but we can't be bothered tracking every child to ensure they get an education," Dr Smith says.

"The Government's excuses over database complications, data sharing, privacy and cost do not wash.

"If the Government was serious about truancy it would get on and invest in this key preventative measure now.

"In 2002 the Government failed to prosecute any parents for truancy, despite more than 4000 reports, it has frozen truancy officer funding and not advanced any proposal for a database.

"It has learnt nothing from the Michael Choy tragedy and, by its inaction, is inviting another," Dr Smith says.

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