Financial Review Debate - Ministry of Education
Tuesday, 12 March 2013 8:36 PM
FINANCIAL REVIEW DEBATE - Ministry
TE URUROA FLAVELL (Māori Party—Waiariki):
Tēnā koe, Mr Chair. Kia ora tātou katoa.
I would like to focus my kōrero, if I can, in my call on the very last paragraph of the 2011-12 financial review of the Ministry of Education—the one that is entitled Achieving Education Success as Māori.
It is probably timely to do so, given that there is plenty of international attention given to this issue by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination during its 82nd session in Geneva. On 21st and 22 February this year the Government’s performance in implementing the International Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination was considered. One of the key recommendations from the committee was: “That the State party considers strengthening its special measures to increase the level of educational achievement of Māori and Pasifika children, in particular by focusing its measures at addressing the root causes of absenteeism and the high drop-out rates in schools.”
We know that Māori students make up about 22% of the total school population, and that is a very significant reason on its own, let alone the Treaty argument that I could suggest, in the protection of all of our taonga, with one of them being tamariki, the upholding of article three “Citizenship rights”, and the requirement of article one for an effective and responsible Government.
So it is pleasing to see in New Zealand’s report to the United Nations that support from family and whānau can influence educational achievement. Whānau are more likely to feel alienated from the mainstream schooling system and less likely to engage with educators due to their own negative education experiences of schooling, so engaging whānau and parents in ways that support the children’s learning is definitely a priority, as I understand it, for the Government, and the Māori Party absolutely supports that.
The Government report also recognises the persistence of inequalities that face Māori and Pasifika in education as spoken to by the Hon Nikki Kaye, and that is that it is essential for the future of New Zealand that these inequalities be addressed. That, I hope, is going to be the focus in the next couple of years left in this terms.
So with all that good intent there are some things that we need to address. It is pretty disheartening that in a few pages on from the reference that I made earlier that we read that 74% of European students leave school with National Certificate of Educational Achievement level 2 or above, less than half of Māori students, 47.8 % to be precise, enjoy that same status.
Under those circumstances we have got a lot of work to do still and a lot of things still to come. There are still concerning trends with respect to absenteeism, including the above average rate of truancy, absenteeism, and early departure from the school system, very often without any qualifications at all.
I want to come back to the financial review in which the Ministry told the Education and Science Committee that its approach requires schools to engage with whānau in ways that are culturally appropriate by adopting the culture of the learner and reflecting it back to the school. It is also committed, so says the report, to helping boards of trustees in schools in implementing that vision.
Under those circumstances we need to know then how effectively and actively is Tātaiako, the guidelines on cultural competency, being implemented. This is a programme that was developed through the relationship between the Māori Party and the National Party. It has plenty going for itself. It was developed over a year ago, and yet we still need to have the full implementation of that particular programme.
To highlight the whole involvement of whānau within the education system I want to bring to the attention of the House one particular kura called Te Pihipihinga Kākano Mai Rangiātea Kura Kaupapa Māori. It is located in New Plymouth. It was the kura that my wife and myself were associated with when it first started. It celebrated twenty years last year. Like many other kura what came about was that the first 2 years of that kura was very much, in fact, without Government funding. It did not have any. The whānau fundraised to keep the school going. I remember folding newspapers in the Taranaki Daily News in New Plymouth and getting those ready to be dispersed out to try and get money to pay our teachers. I think that shows just how much dedication whānau are prepared to give towards providing total immersion education for their tamariki.
We must continue to attempt to mobilise whānau, and not to make them work just simply to keep the kura alive. But in fact at the end of the day it is about improving Māori education.