Miki teaches important lesson

WARWICK RASMUSSEN - DEPUTY EDITOR
Last updated 13:34 23/08/2012

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OPINION: Schools need to have more power in screening who teaches at their schools following a case where the existing system failed badly.

A report into Te Rito Henry Miki, a teacher who was also a convicted child sex offender, showed up those failings at the extreme end.

The ministerial inquiry revealed that Miki had duped the system to teach after his convictions, but failed to lay blame on any individual.

Education Minister Hekia Parata said there were "system failures rather than people failures" and that "no one person can be held accountable for an across system [problem]".

Well, if "no one" person could, how about more than one person?

The report also revealed that the people who had got wind of Miki's background were stymied a number of times by bureaucracy, and it was only their tenacity and perseverance that led to action.

Granted, Miki was an extreme case - he faked his CV, name and birth certificate, and further investigation showed that he had created more than 50 fake identities.

It will never be known whether better screening systems would have caught Miki earlier or not, but whatever was in place needs to be improved.

And if that means some form of photographic identification system, combined with other information to verify identities, then so be it.

Some may feel it is an intrusive addition to the hoops that teachers have to jump through to get a job, but the pros far outweigh the cons.

The inquiry was damning, but it also offered solutions - 35 recommendations among them.

But that can't be the end of it. Individuals, schools, unions and a range of other agencies need to be involved more, and talk more about these issues.

The matter can't be swept under the carpet. It needs attention and it will need funding. There's nothing worse than a Government plan that has no teeth and a lack of resourcing.

The Miki case is one that lessons have to be learned from. How can it not be?

His offending was manipulative and repulsive and if anything similar to it can be stopped, it should be.

One Te Rito Henry Miki is one too many. We don't need another.

ONE MORE THING

The Manawatu Turbos take on the Wellington Lions at FMG Stadium tomorrow for their first round ITM Cup match. Last year was a watershed one for the Turbos, with an unforgettable ride to the Championship tier final. While they may be without their star All Blacks, Aaron Cruden and Aaron Smith, the team has a familiar look to it. Hopefully, they can keep the momentum they had from last year and bring it into tomorrow's game.

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- Manawatu Standard

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