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School swimming lessons save lives

3 December 2008

School swimming lessons save lives - Greens

School swimming lessons play a vital role in preventing drowning - and it is not good enough that learning to swim is increasingly becoming a privilege for those whose parents can afford private lessons," the Green Party says.

The Greens are calling on the Government to take urgent action to ensure every kiwi kid has the chance to learn to swim, in the wake of a report revealing that our swimming skills are getting worse, Education Spokesperson Catherine Delahunty says.

The report, commissioned by Water Safety New Zealand, revealed that teachers believe a quarter of their Year 6 students are not able to get across a distance of 25m, or manage to keep afloat and tread water.

It highlights evidence that some schools simply cannot afford to pay for their students' transport and entry to local pools any longer.

According to Water Safety New Zealand general manager Matt Claridge there is a direct correlation between socio-economic status and access to learn-to-swim opportunities.

Ms Delahunty says: "This is not good enough. We already have one of the highest drowning rates in the developed world and yet a core group of our young people are not getting the chance to learn to swim at all. It is a serious indictment on our education system when a group of children miss out on vital life skills due to lack of funding."

The Green Party supports Water Safety New Zealand's call for more funding, greater professional development for teachers, and for the school curriculum to provide more specific swimming lesson guidelines.

"It benefits every family and every rescue service in the country if all children are taught to swim at school. The Water Safety New Zealand research shows that this issue is not being addressed and that our public school system needs the resources to teach this survival skill."


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