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Turner: Deal with the facts on school leavers

Media statement
For immediate release
Tuesday, 12 September 2006

Turner: Deal with the facts on school leavers

The government needs to take a closer look at the numbers of students leaving school with little or no qualifications in order to fix the problem, according to Judy Turner, United Future education spokesperson.

“If one bothers to look closely at figures of those leaving school without even gaining NCEA level 1, it is evident that our boys are under-performing in general, and our Maori boys in particular,” explains Mrs Turner.

Figures from Dr Paul Baker, who has served as a government advisor and is Rector of Waitaki Boys High School, show that after five years of NCEA system, the gender gap measured 10-12 percent in favour of girls. That means for every six girls in New Zealand schools, only five boys pass NCEA level 1.

“All the figures are telling us that boys are falling further behind girls in every level of education,” says Mrs Turner.

The gender gap is also growing at NCEA level 2 and 3, even given that many more boys leave school before senior level. Last year, males comprised 47 per cent of the year 13 roll, and had just 41 per cent of passes.

“I absolutely agree with Dr Baker’s comments when he said that New Zealand’s response to the gap, ‘has been one of denial, delay and trivialisation’.

“This is not a new phenomenon. In 1999, before NCEA was introduced, 38.3% of Maori boys left school without any qualification, 20% higher than the figure for Maori girls. Non-Maori boys were 46% more likely to leave school unqualified than non-Maori girls.

“The problem is that the Government is letting down our young men at school, by refusing to even look at ways to target and find ways to encourage boys to learn and stay in school.

“As a result, boys are falling even further behind the girls under NCEA, and with male teachers becoming scarcer and scarcer the situation will continue to get worse."

Mrs Turner said that it has long been recognised that there is a large ethnicity gap, and that this has been targeted, and is now improving. “So why will the government not help the guys out?” asks Mrs Turner.

“The Government has accepted that there is a significant achievement gender gap against boys, and that they are leaving school earlier and in larger numbers than girls.

“Yet when I asked the Minister what initiatives they are looking at to target and assist boys to close this gap, he couldn’t say.

“If this trend continues unabated as is occurring now, we will soon have an under-class of uneducated, unemployed and unsocial men.

“I urge the Minister to put aside his personal ideological opposition to looking at the gender gap in schools, and deal with the facts,” says Mrs Turner.


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