Vaimoana Tapaleao is the New Zealand Herald's Pacific Affairs and People reporter.

Charter school policy lambasted by Pacific community leader

Catherine Isaac. Photo / Supplied
Catherine Isaac. Photo / Supplied

A Pacific community leader has slammed the Government's charter school policy, saying there was no consultation with those families who would be mostly affected - the Pacific community.

Chairman of the Auckland Council's Pacific People's Advisory Panel Rev Uesifili UNasa said it was unfair to "experiment" without consulting the community.

"I haven't heard anything that has come out of the public forum that Pacific communities - not just the professionals ... but the parents, the mothers and the fathers whose children and whose family prospects are on the line - [were] consulted.

"The policy-makers live in Remuera. Their kids won't be going to these schools and [they] have no understanding of what the families go through in South Auckland.

"When we are subjected to an initiative like charter schools, we have to ask the question as Pacific people, 'is this system of education ... going to positively [affect] our communities?"'

A charter school system is set to be carried out in South Auckland and Christchurch on a trial basis.

The schools are effectively state-funded institutions without some of the rules and regulations other public schools have and, under the system, private companies are allowed to take over management of failing schools.

It is part of Act's confidence and supply agreement with National and has been implemented in a bid to raise achievement levels in poorer communities.

However Mr UNasa, who is also the chaplain at the University of Auckland, said the move would only make things worse for some schools in those areas.

It also inadvertently separated various communities - something that was unhealthy, he said.

Yesterday former Act president Catherine Isaac was appointed to lead the charter school trial.

Sole Act MP John Banks said although there had not been any community consultation beforehand, he promised there would be before the school system was implemented.

- NZ Herald

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