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Māori Party Declare 2020 A Covid Education Amnesty Year

Māori Party Co-Leader John Tamihere says Years 10 11, 12 and Year 13 students must all be given pass marks to NCEA.

He said 2020 has been so severely disrupted that all Kiwi children facing NCEA exams must be assured of their right to graduate to their next year’s possible aspirations.

“We have a system that allows for an assessment, and those being assessed on present and past performance can receive the benefit of relativity,” Tamihere said.

“But if we do not have a government that asserts this form of amnesty, we heighten the unequal nature of our present education system.”

Tamihere said students in decile 1-5 schools cannot afford data, let alone devices to work remotely. They also come from houses in deep and constant stress.

“All of these children deserve a shot at a new future where education leads to emancipation from their present difficulty and empowers them with an option of employment,” Tamihere said

Prior to Covid, there were 35,000 Māori aged 14-20 not in education, training or employment.

“We cannot in a Post Covid environment knowingly allow these numbers to explode because they have nowhere else to go but to participate in crime or worse, to have to sell themselves on our streets,” Tamihere said.

Māori make up 60% of the prison population in New Zealand Women’s’ Prisons alone.

“We are the most incarcerated indigenous population in the world. This is a national catastrophe and disgrace,” Tamihere said

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“80% of those women are there for crimes of dishonesty. They did not wake up and say to themselves today I’m going to steal and be dishonest,” he said.

“They woke up and said I have to put food on my table. I have to get my kids to the doctors. I have to pay for their uniforms. I have to give them things that others take for granted. So they are in prison for crimes of poverty – not dishonesty.

“We do not need thousands of young Māori or others being run out of school in a deeply broken education year.

“We need a government that understands their journey and is going to support their road from education to employment.

“Firstly it will bring certainty and clarity to all school teachers. They too require a break.”

Tamihere said this was the right thing to do for all students – especially Māori.

“Māori have a right to go from poverty to middle class but we can only get there if the system accepts the very poor starting place that Maori are embedded in” he said.

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