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Truancy: Labour's Lost Children

Truancy: Labour's Lost Children

The Labour Government and its Education Ministry have completely lost track of hundreds of children who don't attend school, ACT New Zealand Education Spokesman Deborah Coddington revealed today.

"Answers to my written Parliamentary Questions have revealed that of 6,499 children referred to the Non-Enrolment Truancy Service (NETS) last year, 244 could not be found. In 2002, 6,251 children were referred and 272 could not be located," Miss Coddington said.

"These figures are a damning indictment on Education Minister Trevor Mallard. When in Opposition, Mr Mallard - in a 1999 media release - promised to create a national database to find children not in school when he said:

`Labour will establish a central records database which will be used for schools to pass information on as children move around. It will be able to show quickly when a child leaves a school without re-enrolling at another'.

"The Education Select Committee urged the Government to establish a truancy database in 2002. Mr Mallard's response was to set up a trial data network to track students through the school system next year. That's as bad as doing nothing.

"The number of children not attending school could be even worse than my figures show. Truant kids are only even looked for if diligent teachers and principals notice their disappearance and alert NETS.

"ACT believes every child deserves a fair start in life. If we are serious about giving our children the best possible start - and we are - then we must move urgently. The Government must act now," Miss Coddington said.

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