10 December 2012
Shocking poverty stats show importance of breakfast bill
Figures released today showing tens of thousands of children being hospitalised for poverty-related illnesses highlight the importance of addressing the problem at the root, PPTA president Robin Duff says.
A step towards this is Hone Harawira’s recently drawn Breakfast and Lunch Programmes in Schools education amendment bill. The bill, which seeks to introduce breakfast and lunch programmes in all decile 1 and 2 schools would be a real move to address the issue of child poverty and should be gradually rolled out across all deciles, Duff said.
“The minister of education’s constant mantra has been that we need to address the ‘one in five’ students not achieving their full potential at school. This one crucial way to address it – this is how we reach her “five out of five”.
The Children’s Social Health Monitor figures emphasise this connection, showing that one in five children were dependent on benefits that were often not enough to pay for proper food or clothing.
“One in five – where have we heard that figure before?”
Finland, which consistently comes out on top in international student achievement figures, has a strong focus on equity over choice and competition.
“This bill if is a first step in exactly that direction. PPTA strongly supports the concept of schools being used as a hub for the delivery of social services to families and young people and the expansion of state funded food programmes,” Duff said.
“Students who are hungry are not able to learn well and, as the minister has often emphasised, schools need to remove barriers to learning.
“This is not about creating welfare dependency – young people are not responsible for their family background and compensating for this is an important role of the state.
“It is a vital responsibility for the government to take on and occurs successfully in many countries overseas.”
The bill is expected to have its first reading in parliament in February next year and Duff urged all parties to support it.