From Penk’s Pen – Education should be a priority

New Zealand has officially reached a truancy crisis and its only getting worse. The Ministry of Education has confirmed a total of 67,000 students were chronically absent from school in Term Four 2021, compared to 57,621 in Term Three 2021. Rewind to 2017 and the number was 37,900. That's a 76 percent increase in chronically absent students since Labour - an incredibly disturbing statistic.
I acknowledge that Covid-19 restrictions and lockdowns have caused significant disruption to our children's education and that many students will have become disengaged from school during this time. However, the government hasn't done anything to address truancy, despite stating that "school attendance has to improve". They have however spent an additional $5 billion each year for education but without any plans or targets for children to be attending school more regularly. We're left wondering as to what this spending has achieved because today, children not only are regularly absent from school but, worse yet, are being caught up in juvenile crime, including stolen cars, ram raids and thefts by children as young as nine.
And it's not just our truancy rates either. Our 2021 NCEA results confirm that literacy and numeracy achievement is also declining under Labour. It was found that literacy attainment for Year 11 students at decile 1-3 schools have taken a significant plunge, falling from 78.5 per cent to 74.8 per cent in just one year. Numeracy attainments have also taken a dive, falling from 76.9 per cent to 73.8 per cent.
Despite an extra $5 billion a year being poured into education, achievement and attendance is going backwards. It really is a mystery as to where all this money is going. The one thing that is clear, however, is that this government is utterly failing to deliver in education and our children are sadly suffering the consequences.
Attendance at school is critical to our children's future, which buys them an opportunity to be successful. Literacy is an essential skill needed for a lifetime and sets our children up for their future. National has consistently voiced the importance of school attendance and last year we released a comprehensive plan to get our schools back on track.
I held a public meeting on education with Erica Stanford MP for East Coast Bays and National spokesperson for Education on Monday 4 July, at Te Manawa, Kokiri Auditorium, 11 Kohuhu Lane, North West Shopping. If you were unable to attend but are concerned about your children’s education please feel free to contact my office in its new location behind Craig Walker Building Removal’s office.

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