16 Jul 2014

Debate over charter schools for Maori

9:01 am on 16 July 2014

A Hamilton-based health provider bidding to establish a charter school is rejecting a claim that kura hourua set up Maori to fail.

Te Kohao Health is responding to comments made by an education expert from Chile, who's in New Zealand to give lectures on the matauranga model.

child writing at school

Photo: PHOTO NZ

Charter schools have been running for 30 years in Chile.

Ernesto Trevino is giving lectures in New Zealand on the similarities in educating disadvantaged children in Aotearoa Zealand and Chile and what he sees as the dangers of charter schools. He said the schools would not set Maori up to succeed.

But, Te Kohao Health's managing director, Tureiti Moxon, disagrees.

She believed its proposed school would work because it would be led by Maori for Maori, and its focus was on engaging tamariki through education they'd enjoy, such as the outdoors.

Ms Moxon said, for example, getting students outside and learning about their connection or whakapapa to the bush.

Mr Trevino said that research showed charter schools tended to select student to keep costs down and their philosophy encouraged competition between schools.

He said Maori had a holistic approach to learning which was not prized in what he described as a market-style education system.

Mr Trevino said the philosophy behind charter schools means competition between schools is encouraged which only widens educational inequalities.