Poverty affects children’s education in a myriad of ways, the NZEI says. Photo / 123RF

Educators and doctors are calling for urgent cross-party talks to rid New Zealand of poverty among children.

NZ Educational Institute Te Riu Roa, the New Zealand Medical Association, Child Poverty Action Group and the Child Wellbeing Network are endorsing a non-partisan solution to solve child poverty.

Teachers, principals and school support staff see the impact of child poverty every day and how it affects children’s learning, NZEI Te Riu Roa president Lynda Stuart said.

“Some of the cases are heartbreaking. We see sick children, hungry children and some who live in cold, damp, overcrowded houses. We see how transience, lack of food in the fridge and inadequate medical care affects their education.

“The OECD has repeatedly singled New Zealand out for failing to address the shocking impact that poverty has on our children’s education.

“Disadvantaged children in New Zealand are more than six times more likely to underachieve in maths than children from wealthier homes.”

Children’s Commissioner Judge Becroft is offering to broker cross-party talks on the issue.

“Political differences should not be allowed to stand in the way of honouring the human rights of every New Zealand child, including their right to an education and to a life free of poverty,” Stuart said.

“Reducing child poverty was a key election issue for many,” NZMA chair Dr Kate Baddock said. “And it’s been a concern for the NZMA for a long time.

“In the past few years, we have seen a valuable report on Solutions to Child Poverty in New Zealand from the Children’s Commissioner’s Expert Advisory Group, and a landmark report from the Parliamentary Health Select Committee on improving child health outcomes.

“Each of these reports has made a long list of evidence-based recommendations, including the need to measure, set targets and report on progress,” she said.

The Select Committee’s 2013 report recommendations included progressing
policies to address disadvantage, covering poverty, discrimination, healthy housing, optimal nutrition, access to health and education services, and safe home environments.

“There is no need to start from scratch. Building on the foundations provided by this report and its predecessor means action can—and must—be taken; sooner rather than later,” says Dr Baddock.

Source: NZ Herald

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