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Truancy moves welcomed, but still must try harder

14 October, 2003

Truancy moves welcomed, but still 'must try harder'

Green MP Metiria Turei has commended the Government's $8.6 million commitment to fight truancy, but said that more effort would be required to address the real causes of the problem.

"It is pleasing to see the campaign will target areas that have higher rates of truancy in New Zealand, such as the Far North, the East Coast and regions with a high Maori population," said Metiria, the Green Education spokesperson.

"However, the education ministry must be prepared to accept the sad irony that much of the education offered in these areas is poorly equipped to deal with the specific needs of children that need it most.

"To address the root causes of truancy, the Government must question the culture of secondary schools to find out why kids don't want to go to them.

"There must remain a commitment to alternative education as a way of reaching out to young people who don't fit in to mainstream education - which is why the Ministry was wrong to close down Auckland's Metropolitan College.

"Education in New Zealand must move on from the imperial 'one-size-fits-all' model to a modern 'different strokes for different folks' approach."

Metiria said she supported positive moves to encourage young people to stay in school.

"I am pleased to see the initiatives outlined by the Minister are geared away from punitive action against the parents and families of truant children. I would hope that the pilot projects mentioned today do not go down this path.

"A punitive approach serves only to shift the blame from a system that is not working for many New Zealand school students on to families with the greatest need for assistance.

"Stand downs and exclusions are being used by schools in alarming numbers to punish students and effectively wash their hands of problems. If the Government really wanted to reduce the numbers of truants it would require far more compelling reasons of schools to deny a student an education.

"An independent review body that would enable students to challenge the reasons for stand downs and exclusions would be a positive first step in this regard," said Metiria.


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