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Government needs to tackle poverty to lift education

28 August 2012
Immediate Release

Government needs to tackle poverty to lift education achievement

Child poverty is the number one cause of student underachievement in our schools and needs to be tackled urgently.

NZEI Te Riu Roa Past President Frances Nelson says she welcomes today’s report from the Office of the Children’s Commissioner which calls for the introduction of free food in the country’s poorer schools.

“We see the effects of child poverty everyday in our schools and we need both short term as well as long term solutions.”’

“Teachers are struggling to educate children who arrive at school hungry, cold and with ongoing sickness caused by untreated conditions,” says Ms Nelson.

She says food plays a vital role in children’s learning and good quality healthy breakfasts and lunches at school would make a big difference to a child’s ability to learn.

“Already some schools and communities have adopted programmes to provide food for children but this doesn’t go nearly far enough.”

“We need to see a national solution with programmes available at all schools.”

Ms Nelson says the Government also needs to address other symptoms of poverty such as poor housing and health.

“Sadly New Zealand has a growing number of children living in poverty and a growing social and economic inequity. Children from poorer backgrounds are paying too high a price for government policies that have simply not cared enough for them.”

“It is a tribute to our quality public education system that despite the growing level of poverty and inequality we still have one of the highest levels of educational achievement in the OECD.”

“One thing is certain, however, we need to tackle poverty instead of wasting money on developing dodgy National Standards and league tables which will not do anything towards raising student achievement.”


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