Maori Achievement and Participation in Education

  • Brian Donnelly
Associate Minister of Education (Early Childhood Education and Maori Education)

"The Government is very confident that education policies in place are already making improvements to Maori achievement and participation in education," Education Minister Wyatt Creech and Associate Education Minister Brian Donnelly said today.

The Ministers noted that while they acknowledge the disparity referred to in the report "Progress Towards Closing Social and Economic Gaps between Maori and non-Maori" this should not obscure the significant progress being made under the current policy framework.

"It is also worth noting that research released last year (the Chapple report) concluded that about two thirds of the education gap arises because of social and economic factors rather than ethnic factors.

"Progress in this area will take time to improve outcomes. For example, the large increase in the number of Maori in early childhood education in recent years will not impact on Maori achievement within the education system for ten years at least."

Despite the general tenor of the report there are some very important positive indicators:

In the past 5 years the number of students enrolled in Maori medium education increased by 50% from 14,400 in 1992 to 21,700 in 1997.

There has been a rapid growth in Maori medium school teacher trainees. In 1987 there were 10. In 1997 there were 783.

The proportion of Maori teacher trainees in Early Childhood Education at 33% significantly exceeds the proportion of Maori children (19%). The proportion in primary teacher training 23% is slightly higher than the proportion of students (20%). This will mean many more Maori
teachers in a few years time leading to ongoing improvements in outcomes over time.

Between 1991 and 1997 the number of Maori children in early childhood education
increased from 21,705 to 30,703.

The number of Maori students in tertiary education has increased from 18,200 in 1992 to 23,617 in 1997.

The number of Maori students graduating from university has increased fourfold from 409 in 1990 to 1571 in 1996.

"The education sector is a key place for the revival of language. The increase in the number of Maori language teachers should have a fundamental impact on the education system and on students.

"If Maori are to make the most of the opportunities the future holds, we have to make sure education policies and decisions help them take the next leap forward. We are making a raft of changes which will help Maori students get more from the education system."

These include:

Development of the Maori Education Strategy
An extensive consultation process has been completed and a comprehensive strategy aimed at raising Maori student participation and development is expected to be released later this

Tertiary Education Review
To make tertiary education more accessible and responsive to all students

National Assessment
To ensure primary school aged children get a good springboard to their education

Special Education 2000
To help students with special education needs, including those whose behaviour needs stop them from getting the most from their education

School Improvement and Support
To support schools and students finding it difficult to deliver a quality education. Examples include programmes in South Auckland, Porirua, and East Coast.

Teacher Supply initiatives
To increase the number of Maori and Maori language teachers. Includes scholarships to attract Maori into teaching

"While existing policies offer promising prospects, we acknowledge continual effort will be needed to eliminate the gap between Maori and non-Maori. Our policy decisions are designed to improve participation in high quality, life long education, and to improve learning outcomes for Maori at all levels of the education system.

"We support the work that will now be done to improve the data upon which the education gap is monitored. This report, along with other Ministry of Education work, provides the basis of a benchmark to measure progress," the Ministers concluded.