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Maori Commission Separatism Not The Answer: ACT

Thursday 24th Jun 1999

Donna Awatere Huata

Media Release -- Education

ACT Tells Maori Commission Separatism Not The Answer

ACT Education Spokesman Donna Awatere Huata has today told the Maori Education Commission that a separate Maori Education entity will not close the gap between Maori and non-Maori in New Zealand schools.

"In a scathing report to Maori Affairs Minister, Tau Henare the Commission, which he set up in 1997, has slammed the education system saying it is pointless coming up with initiatives to patch on to mainstream curriculums and it is time for a separately funded Maori Education Entity.

"I totally agree that the state education system is creating the very disparities that the Government wants to close. But, setting up a separate Maori facility is not the way to go.

"The school system that is failing Maori is also failing huge number of non-Maori with whole areas becoming education wastelands. We must lift education performance for all our children and any initiative that works for Maori should work for every child.

"If, however, Maoridom is asking for greater choice in education providers, why shouldn't they be available to them and to all parents. ACT is the only party that wants to give parents the choice to go out of failing schools to schools that meet the education needs of their child.

"Secondly, there is no proof that a separate Maori education authority would do anything differently or achieve results.

"There are four key areas in the education system that must be addressed if we are serious about giving every child the education they deserve. Firstly, we must have a standard for the quality of teachers in our schools. Second rate teachers must not be in front of our classrooms.

"Secondly, the quality of teacher training must be improved. The third area is reading. The teaching of reading in our schools has reached crisis point with 75% of schools not managing the teaching of reading properly.

"Finally, perhaps the greatest threat our children's achievement, particularly those in poor areas, is the low expectation placed upon them by teachers. Every child is capable of excellence and must be given every encouragement to reach their full potential.

"I would say to the Maori Education Commission that if they can come up with a plan to overcome those key obstacles to excellence in education, they should make it available to every child," said Donna Awatere Huata.

ENDS

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