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School leaving figures a 'national shame'

Thursday, 24 July 2008

School leaving figures a 'national shame'

New figures on school leavers' highlight a massive gender gap in New Zealand schools, according to UnitedFuture education spokesperson Judy Turner.

"The gender gap has become enormous - about three times the size of the gender pay gap that receives so much attention," says Mrs Turner.

"We have set up our education system to focus on ensuring the achievement of girls while ignoring boys as they got left behind. Now that boys are far behind, nothing is being done to address this.

"The attainment gap has actually widened. A whopping 36 percent more girls than boys achieving level 3 NCEA or higher last year, compared with 32 percent in 2006.

"The Secondary Principals Association said that NCEA level 2 now represents the minimum standard for leaving school. Today's figures show that boys are 30 percent more likely to leave school without this minimum qualification than girls, with 39 percent of all boys leaving with NCEA level 2 or above.

"The gap cannot be blamed on socio-economic patterns or explained by cultural differences as can be argued with ethnic variations. The gender gap appears across all ethnicities and particularly Maori," says Mrs Turner.

"Schools are just not a place for boys anymore. Competitive challenges are downplayed, achievement bands don't give same opportunity to improve as marks did and there are very few male teachers - less than one in five at primary schools.

"Just this week there was debate about why female-only scholarships are being awarded at Universities when females make up a large majority of enrolled students.

"It's fantastic that girls are performing so well at the moment. But it is a national shame that because it is boys lagging behind, the problem is being ignored and trivialised by the Government and Ministry of Education," says Mrs Turner.

ENDS

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