[Scoop Independent news, Friday, 30 May 2008]
United Future deputy leader Judy Turner says that the education gap between girls and boys demands immediate action. Her comments follow a report showing that boys are behind at every level in reading and writing, and that more needs to be done to provide a male-friendly learning environment.
The report found:
* There is no difference in the rate of truancy for boys and girls, but significantly more boys, Mâori and Pasifika boys in particular, are stood-down and suspended; are excluded or expelled; and gain early leaving exemptions.
* Females are more likely than males to gain an NCEA qualification at all levels.
* Females tend to stay at school longer and leave school with higher attainment levels than males.
* Males are more likely than females to leave school with little or no formal qualification but this difference has decreased over recent years.
“A huge percentage of boys arrive at intermediate or high school already years behind their appropriate reading age. This is inexcusable – their reading problems are holding them back in their other subjects too and they often never recover,” says Mrs Turner.
“The fact that there was a concerning gender gap five years ago, and that there still is now should not be any relief to the Minister. Does he find this gap acceptable as long as it doesn’t get wider?”
After five years of NCEA system, the gender gap measured 10-12 percent in favour of girls. That means for every six girls in New Zealand schools, only five boys pass NCEA level 1.
“Boys need more attention and the system needs to change to better accommodate the needs of boys at a young age. The flow on effect at University level is obvious and of great concern.
Figures show that 44% more young women than men were enrolled for bachelor degrees. The statistics for Maori is even more concerning, with only 34% of Maori university graduates male, compared to 66% female
“For a start, we desperately need male teachers in primary schools to provide both quality care and education, and provide positive male role models for our young children," said Mrs Turner, a former primary teacher.
"Nationally, only 18% of all primary school teachers were male for the years 2003-2006, down from 19% in 2002.
“This is a huge problem that has not been adequately addressed or acknowledged by the Ministry or the Government. I challenge the Minister to publicly acknowledge that we have a problem in our education system that adversely affects boys, and to commit to finding solutions,” says Mrs Turner.