The Government has announced a new $400 million school classroom infrastructure programme. Easy for any government to spend this money, but hard to make a difference to our quite shocking statistic, where very large numbers of children are leaving secondary school illiterate, and without basic numerical skills.
We require a large reduction in absenteeism, a return to academic rigor, and a "back to basics" agenda, where competition, as in adult life, is regarded as normal.
This can only be achieved with better paid and respected teachers from a rigorous 3-4 year training programme, and not those drifting into the workforce as an after-thought. We must also demand higher teaching standards, with teachers absolved from carrying out parenting roles that should emanate from a more participatory home environment.
Additionally necessary is a highly disciplined classroom environment, with focus on a mastery of essential skills and core concepts.
Improvements are not easy, but it needs a totally fresh government-led approach where we ask why teaching and learning standards in many Asian countries, especially China, are far above those in NZ.
It is all about work ethic, which in our state schools is continually declining. It is high time for a radical change.
Hylton Le Grice, Remuera.
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I fully agree with Warwick Elley (NZ Herald, December 10) regarding the decline in Pisa performance since NCEA was introduced. Of particular concern has been the decline in mathematics and the obvious link to the ongoing appalling standard of examination papers students have had to face.
When NCEA was introduced, problem-solving in mathematics rapidly became a lost art because NCEA dictated the manner in which a question had to be answered. You were penalised if you answered a question correctly but had used arithmetic, for instance, rather than, say, algebra. Teachers meekly obeyed their masters and taught as required. This all occurred at the same time as the cry in the business world was for people with entrepreneurial skills, for those who could think outside the square.
Perhaps even a greater problem was that the setting and marking of exam papers fell into the hands of self-promoting, but insufficiently experienced or knowledgeable teachers, who produced some abysmally poor and embarrassing exam papers. Statistics was the worst hit, and that each paper passes by at least five pairs of eyes before it is accepted, gives some idea of the scope of the problem.
There is little hope, either. Graduates of NCEA are now in the driver's seat.
Patrick McEntee, Hastings.
I totally endorse the suggestion from Liam Dann (NZ Herald, December 8) that Kiwibank be partially listed along the lines of the power generators and cranked up to provide a real challenge to the Australian big four.
Let's boost Kiwibank and help stem that massive five billion-plus flow of funds across the ditch.
We need more NZX-listed companies as well. Yet another reason why this is a great suggestion from Liam.
Bill Mathews, St Marys Bay.
What happens if trips to White Island are cancelled? Will the Central North Island Volcanic Plateau also be abandoned? People have been killed in this location over the years from thermal activity - Rotorua, Taupō and all places in between.
You pay your money and you take your chances while knowing the risks.
Grant Spencer, Pukekohe.
Let us stop the knee-jerk reactions to White Island. Murder inquiries? Stop people from going there?
The people who are doing the rescuing, now of bodies, know what they are doing. Do the politicians? Do you, the public? No to all the above.
Shut up and let the experts do their job. Bear in mind that every time people ski on Ruapehu, they do so on an active volcano. When you walk the grand traverse on Tongariro, it is also active and has killed people.
Do not jump to conclusions until you know all the facts.
Terry Johnson, Tauranga.
The port was the reason Auckland was established in the first place. The city came as a result of the port being built for import and export of goods. The land the port stands on is nearly all reclaimed by the old Auckland Harbour board. Most of the land from Custom St to the water's edge is reclaimed and did not exist until reclaimed by the Harbour Board using the dredgings from the channel.
The cost of relocating the port and building road and rail infrastructure to and from Marsden point would be horrendous. This would increase the cost of every item imported to Auckland.
The idea of moving the port to Onehunga is also a non starter. Trying to bring a large ship over the bar and through this narrow entrance into Onehunga harbour is ridiculous. The letter from Lloyd McIntosh (NZ Herald, December 9) explains the infrastructure required to move the cargo from Auckland to Marsden point and back again.
I do not think that the politicians have any idea what this will cost.
John Laing, Drury.
Correspondent Jack Waters says, if Israel Folau "is a true Christian, he will donate his substantial winnings to charity" (NZ Herald, December 10).
He must think Folau's "winnings" are a windfall. They're not: they are damages, compensation for the loss of future earnings caused by the conduct of Rugby Australia. It's happening in the UK as well, where the courts are finally starting to intervene against the fashionable harassment of Christians.
Gavan O'Farrell, Lower Hutt.
I refer to Paul Hunt's article (NZ Herald, December 10). Having travelled through more than 100 countries and worked in more than 30, I conclude that "human rights" are misnamed. In many countries most of the people have very few rights and, anyway, no one to enforce them.
What we do have are "human privileges". These exist because we live in a civilised Western society where our ancestors died to preserve freedom of thought, speech, equal treatment before the law and so on. It started with the Greeks and the Romans and was codified in the Magna Carta, which, in turn, was reflected in the American and French Constitutions. The principles have since spread to many countries. But not all. All over the world, people are fighting and dying for the privileges that we enjoy.
We must never forget that our ancestors battled for these privileges and we need to be constantly on guard to ensure that governments and others do not erode them. Changing the name to "human privileges" would constantly remind us of their fragility and the need to be vigilant in their defence.
Bryan Leyland, Pt Chevalier.
It is no surprise to learn that poverty rates among our children are at record levels. Little improvement, if any, can be expected under the current system no matter which government is in power.
The problem lies with a broken system. A system which only perpetuates welfare dependency and all its attendant problems. Politicians and bureaucrats will never solve the problem no matter how good their intentions.
The solution lies with taking the power away from the politicians and bureaucrats and giving it to the very people the system is supposed to help.
Until we adopt a savings programme like that practised in Singapore, and begin to transfer government wealth to individuals, the problem will only get worse. In Singapore, individuals have partly taxation funded saving accounts for health, education, pensions, and out-of-work insurance. This gives them the power to select their education and health providers and to adequately fund their retirement and unemployment incomes. It takes the politics out of all welfare.
Vince Ashworth, Morrinsville.
Short & sweet
Wherever there are challenges there will always be an element of risk and White Island has shown us that we should be very honest with tourists as to the dangers they might face. Reg Dempster, Albany.
Why were people there when there was the potential threat of the volcano "clearing its throat"? Was it a case of putting profit before people? Rajend Naidu, Sydney.
With the world again praising Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for her "classy" response to a national disaster, my mind boggles at the way Mike Hosking might have fronted on behalf of the nation. Ross Forbes, Kerikeri.
This was an accident that happened. It is as clear as crystal, no one's fault. But accidents do not happen in this day and age it seems, always someone needs to be blamed. D Hoekstra, Papakura.
Is it really necessary for TV2 to screen Shortland Street 16 times per week? Anthony Lawson, Northland.
Well done Fran O'Sullivan . Balanced and perceptive comment (NZ Herald, December 11) on the Brown report. "Some might say there has been a seriously bad corrosion of public process ..." It is Trumpian indeed. Larry Robbins, Rothesay Bay.
Please, pretty please, with jelly and ice-cream, do not consider Scott Robinson for the All Blacks coaching position. Please cross the Christchurch hip hop dancer off the list, and give the job to a mature adult. Ron Davis, Albany.
The orange cone is health and safety's answer to "She'll be right mate". John Ford, Napier.