It seems a remarkable number, so remarkable you wonder how it's possible.
Last year, the number of kids who left school with no qualifications went up, again. 12 per cent of those who left school, left with nothing, no NCEA. The year before it was 11 per cent. So not only is it up, the fact it was 11 per cent in 2018, I would have thought, is a crime in and of itself.
For a start, NCEA is not hard to get. It's not hard because of the number of subjects you can choose, the ease of the pathway that is offered, and a general sense that testing, if that’s what you still call it, is spread so far and wide these days with assessments and mock tests, it seems almost impossible to fail.
So the first question is, surely, what the hell is going wrong? Is it the teaching? Is it the kids? Is it the home environment? Is it the methodology? Is it the subjects and their material? Or is it a combination?
It's one thing to go part of the way. Two of ours did. Got level one and two, decided school wasn’t for them, there was a big world out there, and they wanted a part of it.
So they left, ditched level three, got jobs, and are loving life and building their own path. That's what I did, I never looked back, and never regretted a minute.
There is an emphasis on school that has been overplayed these past few decades. School isn't everything, NCEA isn't a magic ticket, but no qualifications at all gets you nowhere.
Is there enough evidence now that the way we are teaching damages a lot of kids? Is there enough concern that the business of schooling is clearly failing too many? Are there too many basket case homes where school isn't a priority?
So in totality, has this problem been going on for far too many years, us knowing about it, and yet not been addressed?
It's proof, I suspect, of the gap we so often hear about. Some people simply can't get a job despite industry after industry screaming out for labour. The welfare bill grows to support those who cannot contribute and most likely never will.
And here's the thing, I have trouble getting my head around, why would you want that for yourself? Why in a life where all is possible would you have given up before you’ve even got started?