Educators join call to free NZ children of poverty
Embargoed until 5am, 24 November 2017
Educators are calling for urgent cross-party talks to finally rid New Zealand of poverty among our children, saying the impact of deprivation on education is robbing generations of children of their potential.
NZEI Te Riu Roa, along with Child Poverty Action Group and the Child Wellbeing Network, is endorsing a non-partisan solution to child poverty with Children’s Commissioner Judge Becroft offering to broker cross-party talks for a strong, enduring and non-partisan commitment to reducing child poverty.
“Political differences should not be allowed to stand in the way of honouring the human rights of every New Zealand child, including their right to an education and to a life free of poverty,” NZEI Te Riu Roa president Lynda Stuart said.
Ms Stuart says teachers, principals and school support staff see the impact of child poverty every day and how it affects children’s learning.
“Some of the cases are heartbreaking. We see sick children, hungry children and some who live in cold, damp, overcrowded houses. We see how transience, lack of food in the fridge and inadequate medical care affects their education.
“The OECD has repeatedly singled New Zealand out for failing to address the shocking impact that poverty has on our children’s education. Disadvantaged children in New Zealand are more than six times more likely to underachieve in maths than children from wealthier homes.
“Poverty is a major problem that is preventing thousands of children from achieving success in education."
Ms Stuart says there are also ‘’big picture’’ things we must do to lift children out of poverty, such as paying a Living Wage to their struggling parents.
“As a nation, we can afford to help families free themselves from the cycle of poverty, and change the direction of children’s lives. We need to work quickly and collaboratively to fix this,” she said.