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Alternative Education a dumping ground

Alternative Education a dumping ground for mainstream education failure

Te Ururoa Flavell, Education Spokesperson for the Maori Party Thursday 10 August 2006

Maori Party education spokesperson, Te Ururoa Flavell, today spoke of his frustration with the way in which the state is treating alternative education.

"Earlier this week, the Social Report announced that the proportion of Maori school leavers with qualifications higher than NCEA Level 1 had increased from 45% in 2003 to 47% in 2004" said Mr Flavell.

"Although we say a big Ups to all our whanau and all our kura who have helped make the difference for their tamariki, the gaps between European and Asian school leavers leave some pretty big questions in my mind" said Mr Flavell.

In 2004, 74% of European and 87% of Asian students left school with qualifications higher than NCEA Level 1.

"That's a massive difference" said Mr Flavell. "The proportion of our Maori students who leave school with qualifications higher than level one, is up to thirty percentage points behind other students. That this should be occuring in 2006, is outrageous. It would appear two standards of citizenship apply".

"Almost ten years after alternative education has been around, I think we need to have a good look at the systems that are available to support our rangatahi from leaving school without being set up for life" said Mr Flavell.

The Maori Party has been listening to the concerns of whanau and providers throughout Aotearoa, about the inadequacy of resourcing available to foster alternative education.

"Alternative education looks after our most challenging kids, the ones who have become alienated from school, who have dropped out - labelled an 'at risk student' - those rangatahi who have experienced little success in their schooling to date" explained Mr Flavell.

"Between 2005 and 2006, the expectation of the Ministry of Education was that the numbers of students in this category would rise from 2800 to 3500 - and yet the funding has remained static" said Mr Flavell.

"In Whanganui for instance, they have reached their ceiling limit of thirty students - and yet another fifty are on the waiting list. In Taranaki the numbers attracted to their programme are over-flowing, and yet funding is woefully inadequate. In Blenheim we heard about one high school with a roll over 1000, ten percent Maori, and they were struggling to name one Maori student left in Year 13. I had to ask -where are all our rangatahi Maori going?"

"Back in 1998, the Ministry had just 400 students on their books (in alternative education) - and like the escalating prison numbers; the ever-increasing numbers of New Zealanders below the poverty line; the marked gap in life expectancy - here is another statistical blow-out in which Maori are pre-dominant".

"I feel for all those providers who are slogging it out, with little funding but heaps of aroha, and the system shuts them out" said Mr Flavell.

"You would think that New Zealanders would far prefer to invest in the potential of these young people to experience success, than have their taxes squandered on the massive budget over-run of the Corrections department, or the six million dollar spin to get Aussies to our shores".

"Alternative education has become a dumping ground for mainstream education failure" ended Mr Flavell.

"It has become a vicious cycle - the provider is starved of funding, they are unable to employ qualified staff or provide a full range of opportunities because the cupboard is bare, and so these kids, our kids, miss out again".


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