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Teachers helping students achieve despite shameful poverty

24 August
Immediate Release

Teachers helping students achieve despite shameful poverty

The National Government should be hanging its head in shame at the disgraceful figures on child poverty, says NZEI National President Ian Leckie.

Research from the Ministry of Social Development shows that an increasing number of children are living in poverty and that 50 percent of children in poverty are now classed as living in chronic poverty.

The Household Incomes in New Zealand: Trends in Indicators in Inequality and Hardship 1982 to 2011 has shown that 60 percent of children in poverty are Maori.

“All this, in New Zealand - a supposedly first world country. How does anyone expect a sick, cold and hungry child from a family under enormous financial pressure to learn?” Ian Leckie says.

“Our teacher and principal members know only too well the effect of poverty on a kid’s learning. Sick children cannot come to school and if they do, learning is difficult. Only the other day one of our principals in a decile one school talked about a child at her school who was hospitalised with school sores because the parents could not afford to take the child to a doctor.”

The Ministry of Health has also announced it will target the rise in rheumatic fever – a preventable disease associated with poverty.

“It makes us the laughing stock of the rest of the developed world where this disease is virtually unknown now,” says Ian Leckie.

“Our teachers are constantly cleaning up the mess created by this government. The kids come to school and get fed, get to go on school trips even if they don’t have the money and still get a world-beating education.

“Given that poverty and inequality are key indicators of student under-achievement, it is a credit to our teachers that we have been able to help kids achieve.”

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