“The Government needs to front up and tell the people of New Zealand the truth on a very simple question: do they want to make speaking Māori compulsory for holding a practicing certificate as a teacher, or not?” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“This morning, two spokespeople contradicted each other and themselves over the question. Last week Teaching Council CEO Lesley Hoskin told the inquiry into abuse in state care that “The reality is that at some point, we're going to have to say no longer can you have a certificate to teach in Aotearoa New Zealand without that competence.”

“Speaking to Mike Hosking this morning, Minister Michael Wood said there is “No decision in front of us to put a requirement in place.”

“Only 20 minutes later, Hoskin appeared on the same program and said, among other things “um, so at this point in time we are not, um, looking at, y’know, any, hard lines…” It made for fantastic radio but we the people were left none the wiser.

“Minister of Education Chris Hipkins needs to front up and be clear about what is actually happening, is work being done as the Teaching Council said last week? Or is there nothing to see as Michael Wood says and Lesley Hoskin feigned?

“New Zealand’s education system has a long tail of underachievement that continues to stretch. Earlier this year The Education Hub stated that 35 per cent of students struggled to read and write by the time they were 15.

“Considering the dire state of kids’ academic achievements at the moment, shouldn’t the focus be on ensuring teachers are also skilled in numeracy and literacy?

“Te reo is a beautiful language and an important part of New Zealand’s culture. However, it is mind boggling that the Government appears to place greater precedence on teachers’ competency in speaking the language rather than teaching core skills that children will need to succeed in life.

“For many of the students being failed by our education system, their lack of achievement in school will lead to a life of unemployment, welfare or crime. This is not just an economic issue, but a moral one, too.

“ACT believes maths, science and English are equally important and should also be singled out when teachers renew their practising certificates to teach our future generations. Many teachers have themselves said they don’t feel confident teaching maths. ACT launched policy addressing this just last year.

“We would ensure that primary and intermediate teachers undertake professional development in maths, science and technology, and English, alongside te reo me ngā tikanga.

“High educational achievement has always been a priority for the ACT Party. That’s why we introduced Charter Schools, focussed on lifting the educational achievement of our most vulnerable kids.

“Jacinda Ardern and her Government are more worried about perception than the outcomes for kids, even though education is what will set them up for a lifetime of achievement, better health outcomes and higher incomes.

“It’s time to put children back at the centre of education."

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David Seymour