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Mike's Minute: Parents need to wake up when it comes to absenteeism

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Fri, 2 Feb 2024, 10:15AM
(Photo / NZ Herald)
(Photo / NZ Herald)

Mike's Minute: Parents need to wake up when it comes to absenteeism

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Fri, 2 Feb 2024, 10:15AM

With the school week having mostly ground back into life this week, I was very pleased that the Prime Minister went to school himself yesterday with a message. 

The message was for parents - wake up! The absenteeism crisis is as much our fault as it is anyone's. 

Chris Luxon didn’t say it in those exact words, but that was the inference. 

While the previous Minister of Education Jan Tinetti blamed Covid and the cost of living and specialised in excuse making, the reality is we have no one to blame but ourselves. 

The failure of our kids to pass exams probably sits a bit more with parents than many would like to admit as well, but at least a Government can play their part, and they may well have. 

The idea of an hour of reading and writing every day as a policy in 2024 is one of the more bizarre things I have seen. It introduces what we used to take for granted and thought worked. 

How far off track has a system gone when the failure rate speaks for itself, and you have to literally go back to basics the way they have? 

It's part of the whole education debacle I have never understood. 

For all those who argue we don’t want change and a phone ban is a bad thing and the absenteeism rate can be explained away and the NCEA pass rate is somehow fine, the facts tell a different story this isn't a debate about nuance. 

Most kids don’t go to school. Literally a majority don’t go to school 90% of the time as required and a growing number each year, for the past three years, fail NCEA. 

At the risk of sounding like a bit of a snob, having had five kids through NCEA, you have to be pretty behind the pace to fail it. 

In other words, the fact it's so easy and the fact more and more can't even pass it is, I would have thought, a crisis. 

It's no wonder we are a low wage economy. We don't educate kids, and when we don't, we find excuses for it. 

Luxon said his lot are doing their bit at his school visit. Time will tell if it's enough. 

I suspect it's not. 

But part of his message, which in a wider context is way more reassuring, is to be found in his words to parents. Wake up. 

The inference is at last we have a Government that is prepared to hold a few people to account and some of those people might well be us. 

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