Investing in education is the key

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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Part of New Zealand culture is to strive to provide more opportunities for future generations. One way we can do this is to improve educational performance ensuring every child has the opportunity to succeed.

I’m pleased to see that last year our students achieved the best ever results in NCEA qualifications with 76.4 per cent achieving NCEA Level 2. This is a marked improvement on eight years ago.

To provide students with the best possible learning environment we need to keep improving the type of environments children are learning in. We recently set aside $883 million to go towards 480 new, modern, 21st century learning environments around New Zealand, two school expansions and nine brand new schools. Locally, this will see the expansion of Ormiston Primary School and new schools like the proposed Flat Bush South East Primary and Ormiston Junior College.

New Zealand’s education system is doing well on the whole, but there’s still more than can be done to lift those that are under-achieving.

As local MPs, we often also hear about the need for more support for children with learning difficulties or special needs.

A $15m investment will be made into special education to increase teacher-aid hours and specialist hearing and vision equipment.

This will help make it easier for students to participate in the classroom.

Research is also helping to inform future education funding.

We know from our social investment research that students from long-term welfare-dependent families are at greater risk of under-achieving at school. Children aged between six and 14, who have been supported by benefits for three-quarters of their lives, have only a 48 per cent chance of achieving NCEA Level 2 by age 21. By contrast, 73 per cent of the general population will have NCEA Level 2 by that age.

Education Minister Hekia Parata has budgeted funds to provide additional targeted support into schools for students who have spent a significant proportion of their lives in benefit-dependent households. Students most at risk of educational failure will then have greater access to the resources and support they need.

Investing in New Zealand’s future starts with investing in education. Every New Zealander deserves the opportunity to advance in life and be provided with the best tools to do so from an early age.

Jami-Lee Ross
Member of Parliament for Botany