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New opportunities for Kawerau's young parents

Tue, 22 June 2004

New opportunities for Kawerau's young parents

Education Minister Trevor Mallard officially opened two centres catering for teenage parents and their children at Kawerau College today. "I congratulate the 21 students already enrolled at the teen parent unit - Te Tari Ako Matua Taiohi - on making a great choice to continue their education," Trevor Mallard said.

"This government believes everyone, regardless of background, deserves a fair go and access to quality education. By supporting initiatives such as Te Tari Ako Matua Taiohi we are ensuring that teenage parents can continue with their education while their children can access quality early childhood education.

"Teenage parents in secondary schools often have educational needs that are not easily catered for through regular mainstream classes. Kawerau's young parents now have a learning environment with suitable childcare facilities attached and teaching staff who understand the need to balance study with child-raising commitments.

"Lifting the educational success of teenage parents has a great impact on the future success of their children. One of the goals of teen parent units is to provide strong early learning foundations for these children, by encouraging their parents in education and by providing associated early childhood facilities."

Through the unit these young parents are supported in their education directly by their teachers and with support from The Correspondence School courses funded by the Ministry of Education. Ngä Ririki Early Learning Centre is an all day care and education facility catering for up to 30 pre-school aged children.

An Early Childhood Discretionary Grant of $102,000 was allocated to the Central North Island Kindergarten Association to undertake modifications to a disused kindergarten building so that it was suitable for under-2-year-olds. During the late 1990s Kawerau was identified as having the highest teen pregnancy rate in New Zealand.

While this is no longer the case, the community raised the need for an environment in which teen parents could continue their education and also meet their children's care and education needs.

Both centres are part of the Ministry of Education's Schooling Improvement Project, known as PEEK: Project to Enhance Education in Kawerau.

ENDS

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