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School: Thousands of Children Missing in Action

‘Children lost in space – Thousands of Children Missing in Action from School’

Te Ururoa Flavell, Maori Party Education Spokesperson

Wednesday 12 December 2007

The Maori Party has today revealed their huge concern that some 6334 students are “estimated” to be non-enrolled at schools.

“While it is good that we have finally got a system to find out the true nature of the truancy problem, the over-riding question has to be, what are schools doing about it?” asked Te Ururoa Flavell, education spokesperson for the Maori Party.

“While the Minister of Education is proud to speak of the millions of dollars that have been spent on the ENROL electronic enrolment register, we would have far greater pride in our education system, if we could account for these 6334 tamariki in the first place” said Te Ururoa Flavell, Education spokesperson for the Maori Party.

“We have to ask, what is going on at schools if thousands of our children are not attending?” asked Mr Flavell. “It may well be that these figures are a reflection of an education system which is unable to cope with the diverse needs of parents and children and the new technology has exposed the extent of the problem".

“We have to ask, what is going on in families, if their children are not enrolled at school and are in effect, ‘missing in action’?” asked Mr Flavell.

“We note also the comments from the Quality Public Education Coalition which concludes that increasing numbers of students have fallen through the cracks of the system, created by shifting responsibilities for education” said Mr Flavell.

“We know that our Maori tamariki are disproportionately represented amongst those who are not enrolled or attending school” stated Mr Flavell.

“While the Ministry’s draft Maori Education Strategy, Ka Hikitia, is a really positive initiative, it’s meaningless if these kids aren’t at school in the first place. What responsibility will the Ministry of Education take up to address these issues with schools?”

“We want to know what the Minister of Education is doing about this appalling failure of the system – and I am sure the greatest Christmas present Parliament could ask for, is to see those 6334 students back at school – or at least identified and accounted for” said Mr Flavell.

ENDS

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