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News Worthy, 4 July 2008

News Worthy

4 July 2008 – No. 253

Children’s participation in sport and activity is declining

No surprises here.

Research shows that one in three New Zealand children are obese or overweight. Between 2000 and 2007 total participation in secondary school sport only rose 1.7%. Over the same period, the national secondary school roll increased by 10%

More than 16,000 secondary school students played cricket in 2001. Last year it was only 13,000.

In 2006, after-school sport for children in Otahuhu collapsed. The suburb's five decile-1 primary schools stopped organising sports at a local recreation centre because families couldn't afford the fee increase from $2 a head for each game to $4-$5 a head.

National has proposed that sport for young New Zealanders should be a priority.

Sadly the Labour-led Government response was derisory.

Some Education stats

* 20% of all students have left the school system before the legal leaving age of 16 years (Maori 37%, Pasifika 16%);

* There is an estimated daily truancy rate of 3-4% across all levels with 15% being absent daily in low socio-economic secondary schools, 10% in high socio-economic secondary schools;

* There is at any one time in New Zealand, between 17,000 (6.5%) and 25,000 (9.5%) young people aged between 15 and 19 years who are not in education or employment or further education and training;

* 68% of secondary students leave school not qualified to enter tertiary education (Maori 72%, Pasifika 74%)

* There is, in fact a lower proportion of students still in school now at the age of 16-years than there was in 1993 when the school leaving age was 15.

The Tertiary Education Commission - A poster child of bureaucratic excess The core business of Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) is to lead the government's relationship with the tertiary education sector, and for policy development and implementation.

In just four years, since its establishment in 2004, the TEC has burgeoned to 287 full-time employees and a further 19 who are part-time.

The Government has confirmed that TEC’s new structure could have 341 full-time employees, but said they hadn't finished hiring staff.

In 2007 there was a 69% rise in TEC bureaucrats earning over $100,000, and in 2008 a 16% rise.

A strong bureaucracy is a necessary element in a functioning civil society but the focus of such a bureaucracy should be on improved services and not on the building of paper dominions and waste.

A reflective moment

Occasionally comes a sermon which provokes reflection. The latest ordination in the Auckland Catholic Diocese is of a Philippine Priest Father Gilbert Ramos based in Thames. Last Sunday he spoke about managing risk in society.

He tells a story of a monastery in Spain built on a rocky outcrop high in the Pyrenees. The monastery was only accessible by basket hoisted on a rope by the monks. The ascent was perilous.

One visitor to the monastery concerned at the fraying state of the rope asked the monk as the basket ascended how often the rope was renewed. The delayed but thoughtful response was that the rope was renewed when it broke.

An illuminating insight into the range of risk management practices.

Political Quote of the Week

"The time to take counsel of your fears is before you make an important battle decision. That's the time to listen to every fear you can imagine. When you have collected all the facts and fears and made your decision, turn off all your fears and go ahead." General George S. Patton - a leading U.S. Army General in World War II

Dr Richard Worth

National Party MP


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