Protest rallies against inequity in schools

TESSA JOHNSTONE
Last updated 16:19 29/03/2014
Protest
Kevin Stent/FAIRFAX NZ

UP IN ARMS: A scene from the Living Wage for Learning Protest at Parliament grounds, Wellington. Rebecca Matthews of Wellington (centre) leads the call.

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Inequality in communities needs to be addressed before the educational achievement of children can come up, according to protesters gathered at Parliament today.

About 300 parents, teachers, school support staff rallied with teachers' union NZEI in Wellington about the growing inequity in schools as the education minister hosted the International Education Summit inside.

Education Minister Hekia Parata said she was disappointed with the protest timing, especially given NZEI's involvement in the organisation of the summit and being part of previous delegations to New York and Amsterdam.

NZEI president Judith Nowotarski said the union had organised the rally to coincide with the summit because the conference was about addressing inequity in educational achievement, and addressing inequality outside the classroom would contribute to that goal.

''Every day we see what happens when child is hungry, or stressed because of financial issues.''

Nowotarski said as well as addressing poverty in the community, low wages were a concern for the education workforce.

School support staff such as teacher aides, administration staff and cleaners had a critical role in schools and needed to be supported with a living wage, she said.

Family Centre Social Policy Research Unit spokesman Charles Waldegrave said gradually moving all school support staff to a living wage of $18.80 would result in less sickness, staff turnover and greater productivity.

''Children need all school staff adequately paid and securely employed,'' said Waldegrave.

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- The Dominion Post

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