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Government Backs Pre-School Learning

The goal of every child being able to read, write and do maths by age nine, is brought closer today with the announcement to expand the HIPPY pre-school learning programme, said Prime Minister Jenny Shipley and Education Minister Nick Smith.

"Learning starts at home. This investment will help parents to give their pre-school aged children a head start to being able to read, write and do maths by age nine," Mrs Shipley said.

Today's announcement was made by Mrs Shipley and Dr Smith during a visit to the Glen Innes HIPPY programme. It will expand the HIPPY project to a further five communities and secure the future for nine existing programmes.

HIPPY stands for Home Instruction Programme for Pre-School Youngsters. It was developed in Israel, and brought to New Zealand by the Pacific Foundation and has been strongly advocated by Lesley Max, author of 'Children: Endangered Species?'.

"Good social programmes are about intervening early, engaging with parents and ignoring the artificial boundaries between health, education and welfare. HIPPY is working, and we are pleased to help expand it so more children can benefit," Mrs Shipley said.

The new funding of $1.3 million over two years will ensure the survival of nine HIPPY programmes in the Far North, Kelston, Onepoto, Glen Innes, Birkdale, Manurewa, Gisborne, Flaxmere and Palmerston North. These are on top of those receiving welfare funding as part of Family Service Centres in Mangere East, Papakura, Huntly, Opotiki, Porirua and Motueka. The funding also enables the establishment of three new programmes in Wiri, Foxton and North Cape next year, and a further two, yet to be decided, in 2001. HIPPY involves parents using structured activities for 15 to 20 minutes each day to help their children's learning. Tutors visit the parents to give them training on the different activities.

"HIPPY is also about strengthening families, empowering parents and reducing child abuse. I have visited a number of the HIPPY programmes and have been impressed with the grass roots support it attracts and with the results it gets for the children. This investment in children will pay handsome dividends in years to come," Dr Smith said.

"Executive Director Lesley Max has been an awesome force in getting HIPPY up and running in New Zealand. Programmes like HIPPY will go a long way to helping us achieve our goal of having every nine year old able to read, write and do maths by 2005," Dr Smith said.

ENDS

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