It’s cool to read and it’s cool to aspire

Literacy and numeracy

Education not the welfare system is the key to getting out of poverty.

So is the view of Alan Duff – New Zealand novelist, newspaper columnist and Duffy Books in Homes founder.

Duff says people should get rid of “losing” mindsets and Māori should drop the “mantra of colonialism”, as “it’s a losing mindset and it’s going to lead us to disaster”.

“Last year, I was at an event. One of the lead singers of Sole Mio came out to me and he was in tears.

“He said, ‘they just told me who you are. We are all recipients of Duffy books and the characters in those books gave us the idea that we didn’t have to accept that we live in a state house’.

“We can be who we want,” Duff says.

“That is what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to open up a bigger, wider world, full of opportunities for the 100,000 children on our programme.”

“We just send them a relentless message that it’s cool to read and it’s cool to aspire.”

Duff made the comments recently in Auckland at a breakfast fundraiser for De Paul House, a transitional housing and social housing provider.

Duff is not alone in his concern about student success.

School principals have the same concern, student achievement, but approach the issue from a different perspective.

The principals say new literacy and numeracy standards could “provoke a crisis” and “undermine the credibility” of the NCEA assessment system.

Their focus is particularly drawn to Māori and Pasifika students, saying they could miss out.

This year 200 schools took part in piloting the new standards.

Just one-third of students passed the writing assessment.

Sixty-four percent passed the reading assessment, and only half passed numeracy.

The principals say that during the pilot, principals said the tests could worsen “institutional racism” in the education sector.

Leanne Webb​, principal of Aorere College in Manukau, wrote to the Education Minister, Chris Hipkins, expressing her “grave concerns” about the pilot and Māori and Pasifika students’ lower levels of achievement at the school.

“If a literacy and numeracy qualification is introduced in this form in 2024, it will provoke a crisis of real magnitude in education and undermine the credibility and purpose of the NCEA assessment system,” she told Hipkins.

Overall, a plan to “get us out of our moribund achievement” is needed, she told the Minister. But it can’t begin with a test in high school. It needs to start at primary school and flow through, she said.

“Merely introducing an aspirational test will not turn around achievement, it will merely increase collateral damage.”

Nic Richards​, principal of Naenae College, says the tests would “potentially exclude our most vulnerable students from equitable access to educational credentials” at all levels of assessment.

The co-requisites mean students won’t achieve certification at NCEA level 1, 2, 3 despite performing well in other subject areas.

“You’re effectively saying here’s a hurdle you’ve got to get over. If you can’t get over it, you’re never going to have a school-leaver qualification.”


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News category: New Zealand.

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