“The Government needs to wake up and face the reality that 270,000 children are living in poverty and that will hurt their ability to learn and get ahead in life,” says Nanaia Mahuta.
“Child poverty is a National disgrace. It is a health issue, an economic issue and a matter of social justice. But it is also an education issue.
“It’s appalling that every week 40,000 kids turn up at school without breakfast. If a child has an empty tummy they are not ready to learn and make the most out of their education.
“Teachers often tell me they have to provide breakfast and lunch for their students so that they can pay attention in class. It’s just not good enough.
“Paula Bennett claims that children move in and out of poverty on a daily basis, when the harsh reality is that many stay in the cycle of poverty and depravation for years and years.
“It is demoralising for parents to be trapped in poverty, with no hope of a better income and a better life. Sadly some families end up keeping their children at home because they don’t have proper winter clothing or shoes or bus money.
“All these factors ‘outside of the school gate’ affect children’s learning and more needs to be done.
“The Government needs to get real. John Key and his ministers cannot just wash their hands of the problem, and blame it all on the global economy. Where is the plan to help lift the families of those 270,000 kids out of poverty?
“If the Government continues to sit back and do nothing, then nothing will change. And it will be the children and their education that suffers the most,” says Nanaia Mahuta.
NOTE: Labour is today releasing the first of a series of graphics designed to highlight the impact of inequality on children’s education.