Māori Party Co-leader and Te Tai Hauāuru candidate Debbie Ngarewa-Packer is shocked with the Ministry of Education’s decision today to allow senior students to return to high schools in Tāmaki Makaurau while the city is still in lockdown at Level 3, and is backing parents and teachers who are concerned the new rules will compromise learning and public health.
“We should not risk sending Auckland high school students back to school while they are still in lockdown, the safety and wellbeing of our tamariki, kaumātua and whānau must be our number one priority,” said Mrs Ngarewa-Packer.
“The Government allowing senior students to return to school could put the whole community in danger, especially for Māori and Pasifika whānau who often live in intergenerational homes and are the most at risk from this latest outbreak.
“It’s shocking that Government has buckled to pressure from a few high-decile school principals and put communities in Tāmaki Makaurau at further risk, especially given at least two clusters during the pandemic have centred on schools.
“If the lockdown goes on beyond two weeks, NZQA and the Ministry need to respond by increasing the learning recognition credits that are already on offer and utilising the flexibility that NCEA allows.
“Teachers are telling us they want the focus to be on the positives and the opportunities available to young people. They want us to support them to close the digital divide and design learning and assessment that can be done anywhere and anytime.
“When we need agile and innovative student-centred responses why are we doing what we’ve always done and continuing with approaches that only suit a few.
“We may be living with the reality of COVID-19 for a long time, so we need to redesign our education system to ensure that students and their teachers can work in flexible ways, while also addressing long-standing issues of inequity and disparity in communities.
“With wellbeing at the forefront right now our young people deserve so much more. We urge Government to be courageous for our kids and deal with equity and the digital divide, if we can’t do it now amid a pandemic then when can we!” said Mrs Ngarewa-Packer.