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Collins Comments - 27 April 2005

Collins Comments - 27 April 2005

Education is a key issue for all those concerned with the future of New Zealand. Without a world-class education system, we simply cannot close the growing gap between incomes in New Zealand and those in Australia. 114,000 New Zealand born citizens have emigrated in the past five years. These are the very people we can ill afford to lose.

We cannot reverse this flow overnight. But reverse it we must to ensure able-bodied kiwis stay firmly on New Zealand soil. In 1999, the average Australian wage was $5,000 per annum more than the average New Zealand wage. That gap has now increased to $9,000 per annum.

New Zealanders are getting tired of being told that only “professionals” know what is best for them and their families.

I know that children whose parents read to them from an early age have a head start in education. Children who are taught their colours, letters of the alphabet and numerals are far better prepared for school than children whose parents mistakenly believe that only trained teachers can help their children learn.

By the time children reach school age, it is simply too late to expect that they will suddenly understand what books are for or will suddenly want to read.

The biggest emphasis in education in the last 5 years has been on tertiary funding – particularly to “community” courses.

National Party leader Don Brash has unveiled National’s plan to put the emphasis back on track – onto the pre-school and primary schools by:

Overhauling NCEA and reintroducing demanding scholarship exams with meaningful grades; Let parents know how their children and the schools are performing; Cut back the endless assessment that currently wastes so much of teaching time; Introduce national literacy standards and accountability measures to make sure schools are meeting the standards. To ensure that no child is left behind, provide reading and maths vouchers to give parents the resources to help their children catch up; Dramatically cut the education bureaucracy, decentralise school management and use those savings to increase school funding Free up our outstanding state schools and allow them to expand Support the expansion of integrated schools where parents demand them

Improve parental choice as to where children go to school by ending rigid zoning restrictions and lifting the state’s contribution to independent schools.

We have outstanding teachers in New Zealand who are leaving the profession.

In my work as an electorate MP, I hear complaints by teachers that: They don’t feel valued; They feel burdened by mindless form-filling; Resources are restricted and they are expected to act as social workers far too often.

Principals constantly complain about falling standards in teachers’ colleges, about having to battle a heartless bureaucracy and selling raffle tickets and relying on “pokie” funds to make ends meet. Principals must be given control over their schools if they are to achieve the high standards that parents and students have the right to expect.

The purpose of our education system should be to teach our children – not about pandering to the politically correct dogma that comes out of the current administration. This newsletter is available on my website If you have a friend who wishes to subscribe to this newsletter or if you wish to unsubscribe from this newsletter please send an email to


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