By: Jesse King

The next paid union meeting will be held at Whanganui Intermediate School on Tuesday March 27. Photo/ Bevan Conley

A paid union meeting will take place for Whanganui primary school teachers today (Wednesday) at Wanganui East School starting at 2.15pm.

It is one in a series of nationwide meetings to be held over two weeks in response to what is being described as an education crisis.

Issues include difficulty in recruiting and retaining teachers, the lack of time to teach and inadequate resourcing for children with additional learning needs.

New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) Te Riu Roa members plan to use upcoming collective agreement negotiations to discuss and progress solutions to the problems.

One discussion will surround a significant pay jolt to address the growing teacher shortage, which NZEI Te Riu Roa president Lynda Stuart said would not be cheap.

“Tackling these issues head-on is the only way to stop this crisis in teacher numbers turning into an unmitigated disaster for our children’s future education,” she said.

“The children of New Zealand deserve the best education in the world and the government has committed to that.

“We need to address these issues now, otherwise the crisis in teaching will only escalate and we’ll be faced with classes of 40 or more children.”

Teachers are fleeing education and students do not see it as a desirable career choice, reflected by a 40 per cent reduction in teacher training in the past six years.

“The lack of time to actually teach and the inadequate pay of teachers is making recruiting and retention extremely difficult right across the country,” Ms Stuart said.

“The government recognises the growing crisis that the previous government failed to address and has shown a willingness to work with the sector for solutions beyond a band-aid approach.

“We’re optimistic that it’s not too late to turn this crisis around.”

The paid meetings began on March 12 and are being convened separately for teachers and principals.

Another paid union meeting will be held at Whanganui Intermediate School on Tuesday March 27.

Source: Wanganui Chronicle

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