Canterbury sees 408% increase in non-enrollment of primary school children

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Apr 26, 2023 |

New figures released to Newstalk ZB reveal that a record-high number of primary school children are not enrolled in the country’s formal education system.

Nearly 10,000 5 to 13-year-olds are currently not enrolled as of 2022, a significant increase from just over 6,300 the year before.

The biggest percentage increase in the country has been reported in Canterbury, which saw a 408% increase in non-enrollments in the year leading up to 2022.

Auckland and Waikato also saw significant increases of 88% and 71%, respectively, while Nelson and Marlborough were the only regions to see a decrease in non-enrollments, dropping by 60%.

The Government has responded to the issue by investing almost $74 million dollars into the Attendance Turnaround Package, which includes a redesign of the 2022 Attendance Service and an attendance and engagement strategy aimed at improving the situation.

It consists of:

  • funding of $37.6 million over five years for 82 new attendance officer roles who will work with schools in supporting students who are irregularly or moderately absent

  • funding of $28.4 million over five years to increase capacity and address cost pressures of the Attendance Service

  • funding of $7.73 million over three years to develop an improved and standardised system for attendance data collection and analysis.

The Ministry of Education has identified multiple factors contributing to the increase, including the Omicron outbreak at the start of last year and transfers of students to different schools.

If a transferring student is not enrolled at their new school within five days, they are considered non-enrolled. Caregivers who fail to enroll or ensure regular attendance may face prosecution.

In February, National’s Erica Stanford said “under Chris Hipkins’ watch as Minister for Education, regular school attendance fell from 63 per cent in 2017 to just 39 per cent in Term 2 last year, a decline which started well before COVID-19.”

“Instead of focusing on improving attendance rates, Mr Hipkins hired an additional 1,500 head office staff at the Ministry of Education. Only now, after five years of decline and under a mountain of political pressure, Labour has found the resources for 82 attendance officers scattered across the country.”

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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