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Thousands of Children Missing From School

SOS Alert: Thousands of Children Missing From School

Te Ururoa Flavell; Education Spokesperson for the Maori Party

Thursday 10 August 2006

The Government's admission today, that there is a high number of inaccurate notifications of students not enrolled at a school reflects system failure at its very worst, said Te Ururoa Flavell, Education Spokesperson for the Maori Party.

"The Minister's confession that in 2005, around half of the 8000 non-enrolments notified to the Ministry of Education were wrong, doesn't give any parent confidence, that their precious child is in good hands" said Mr Flavell.

"Can parents have any faith in the education system when half of these students are unaccounted for?" asked Mr Flavell.

"It appears 'the system' has lost 4000 children of the nation, and no-one even bats an eyelid".

"National student numbers and electronic databases are all well and good" he said, "but what about a simple class register, teachers talking to families, incentives put in place for school communities to take responsibility for the children in their care" said Mr Flavell.

"The $5 million put aside for the ENROL database, might be much better spent on making schools places that students want to attend" said Mr Flavell.

The Maori Party has been looking into the concerns currently raised by alternative education providers [separate release available].

"Assigning a barcode to a child is only one aspect of a much bigger problem" said Mr Flavell. "The crunch issue is, why is it that so many students are leaving school in the first place - and then the problem is compounded by their non-attendance going unobserved".

Mr Flavell also noted the disproportionate number of Maori students who are being stood down (removal from school for a maximum of five days) or suspended (formally removed, until the Board of Trustees decides on an outcome).

"In 2004, while 21% of the school population were Maori; they accounted for 41% of all stand-downs (8383) and 47% of all suspensions (2244)" said Mr Flavell.

"I wonder what genetic theory can arise to explain for this apparent crisis" ended Mr Flavell. "Or is the system prepared to accept this failure as well?"

ENDS

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