Fears for Maori education project

JONATHAN CARSON
Last updated 05:00 19/11/2012

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Negotiations are under way over the future of an education project helping to lift the achievement of Maori students.

However, the Post Primary Teachers' Association and Labour education spokeswoman Nanaia Mahuta say the Government has largely abandoned the Te Kotahitanga programme.

The project, which was started in 2001, is aimed at improving Maori achievement at secondary level. It has been implemented at six Waikato schools and evidence suggests it has been helping to close the achievement gap between Maori, Pasifika and Pakeha students.

The rate of students achieving NCEA level 2 at Hamilton's Melville High School has increased from 20 to 73 per cent, and level 3 from 0 to 35 per cent between 2008 and 2011.

Ministry of Education spokeswoman Pauline Barnes yesterday said she was "negotiating to continue" the programme.

Te Kotahitanga director Mere Berryman confirmed this and said there had been no mention of "watering it down".

However, Hauraki-Waikato Labour MP Ms Mahuta said the ministry was pulling back from the programme after investing close to $40.25 million in it.

"The Government is not funding any new schools to enter, and schools that have been funded were funded for a three or five-year period and that funding will be wound down, and then schools will be expected to fund from their operations grant. The ridiculous thing about it is that, where Te Kotahitanga has been activated in schools, there has been a clear improvement in NCEA outcomes for Maori students."

Post Primary Teachers' Association president Robin Duff said the "New Zealand education landscape is littered with great ideas" that have been abandoned by Governments.

He said there had been concerns that the cost and intensity of Te Kotahitanga would result in its funding being pulled.

"Many schools in the rest of the country asked for it and they were told it's too expensive."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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