Starting at the wrong end of education

Pita Sharples has tempered the comments he made yesterday about Maori having open entry to university by saying that would only be if they meet certain standards.

This afternoon Dr Sharples clarified that he did not expect unqualified Maori to be immediately accepted into courses.

“It’s just providing entry for people to attend a student learning centre where they can reach the standard to do a degree.”

Universities already run pre-admission courses and Dr Sharples is still focussing on the wrong end of the education system.

The problem is not that too few Maori are going to university it is that too few have the required literacy and numeracy skills to gain admission and succeed.

Solving that starts by ensuring pre-schoolers have the skills to get the most out of school from the start – just simple things like being able to count to at least 10, recognising and being able to name colours, knowing how to hold a crayon or pencil, how to hold a book, that the pictures related to the story and that reading is fun.

Once they’re at school, children who are struggling need to be identified early and given extra help. Families and whanau may need assistance too so they are capable of giving children the home support which is an important part of succeeding at school.

It’s not easy to do but it would be far more effective than trying to get more people into university if they don’t have the ability and will to succeed there.

Kiwiblog shows the problem isn’t too few Maori entering university but a disproportionate number who fail to complete their courses.

University isn’t the right  place for everyone and, as Macdoctor points out, you don’t have to be tertiary educated to succeed:

. . . whereas a good, basic education is essential, it is simply not true that a tertiary education is necessary for one to be successful. . . But the majority of business owners appear to have relatively low levels of education. One can only conclude that, while tertiary education will help in the job market, you do not need it to be a success. What you need is the motivation to be successful.

Giving Maori an easier route to university would set up more for failure once they were there and also reflect badly on those who got there on their merits.

Giving everyone better than basic literacy and numeracy skills would provide them with the choice of a tertiary education or taking another route to success.

One Response to Starting at the wrong end of education

  1. Neil says:

    In my working life I taught,many of these children were at the 11-13 age. Some were Maori children who had as good intellectual ability as my European
    The boys,Maori and European, were never as industrious as the girls.
    My sense of sadness is some of the talented young Maori girls full of natural intellectual talent, happy and well adjusted, suddenly changed during puberty into “slags”.Family expectations were for them to go into a shearing gang,get pregnant and then the next generation starts all over again.
    I still remember one girl, bright intellectually,a very good sports person with the talent of leadership.
    I find now she is on a sickness benefit with a 13 year old son. That same girl could have graduated from Uni.
    Family attitudes and aspirations are more important than open entry to varsity.


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