The Education Ministry is under fire for printing thousands of gimmicky badges to promote Maori education, with principals labelling them a patronising waste of money.
The badges, emblazoned with slogans such as "Wassup!", "Nice!" and "I love Maori success", have been sent to schools to promote Ka Hikitia - the Maori education strategy. They cost taxpayers about $56,000.
Lisl Prendergast, principal of Sacred Heart College in Lower Hutt, said the badges would do nothing to improve Maori achievement and were a waste of money while schools were struggling to balance their books.
She refused to make teachers wear them and sent 58 badges back to the ministry yesterday in protest. "This is disgusting. Do I want my staff to wear them? No I don't, because it's patronising, it's not furthering Maori education and it's a stupid strategy."
She said she supported te reo and Maori education, but schools were burdened with Government initiatives while receiving inadequate state funding.
In a letter to ministry chief Karen Sewell, she said a recent 5 per cent funding increase was not enough "while mandarins are spending money on gimmicks like this ... Money spent on initiatives and glossy booklets is not going to change learning behaviours and real teaching in classrooms".
Ministry Maori education deputy secretary Apryll Parata said the "buttons" were in packs with DVDs and other teaching resources. About 70,000 were sent out - one for each teacher.
The buttons cost 81 cents each and were designed to prompt discussions between pupils and teachers using language that appealed to young people.
The relationship between Maori pupils and teachers was crucial to lifting achievement, she said. Initial feedback on the badges had been positive.
- The Dominion Post
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