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Labour's Maori policy loses focus

Gerry Brownlee MP

National Party Maori Affairs Spokesman

27 August 2005

Labour's Maori policy loses focus

National Party Maori Affairs spokesman Gerry Brownlee has challenged Labour to focus on improving the basics of literacy and numeracy before it forces its PC ideas about what's important on our graduates.

He is commenting on Labour's Maori policy which says all teaching graduates will be required to demonstrate a competency in Maori enunciation and pronunciation.

Last year, a report from Canterbury University's Education Department found that many first year students struggled with basic literacy and many could barely construct an adequate sentence.

"To my mind, that is an absolute crisis. If the people in front of the classroom can't read and write properly what chance is there for future generations?

"Ensuring our young people are competent in the English language should be the number one priority for any government. Teachers with strong literacy and numeracy skills are essential to that.

"But Labour has thrown literacy into the too hard basket, preferring to have teachers who can speak a little bit of both English and Maori.

"National is a strong supporter of Te reo Maori, but ensuring our people can string a sentence together is much more important. Surely Maori pronunciation must come after that."

National will set literacy and numeracy standards for primary students and will provide parents with the resources to get their children up to speed if they are not meeting those standards.

ENDS

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