Housing crisis now an education crisis, says NZEI

The NZEI is backing calls for a national strategy to end homelessness amid mounting evidence that thousands of children who lack a warm safe home are also being denied their right to an education.

The Labour, Green and Māori Parties have released their report into solutions to homelessness, following a cross-party inquiry which heard from hundreds of submitters.

“The homelessness crisis affecting thousands of New Zealand children is also an educational crisis,” says Jan Tinetti, principal of decile one Merivale School in Tauranga and NZEI executive member.

“About ten percent of the children in my school are homeless, with more families coming to see me most weeks to say they’re about to lose their home.

“You can just see from looking in their eyes that these children are too tired to learn. Some of them don’t have friends, and won’t even  try to make friends because they know they’ll be moving soon.

“Children in deprived communities like ours often start school behind children in more wealthy communities.

“Education should be their ticket out of poverty, but if they’re too tired or sick to learn they fall further and further behind. That’s not just a tragedy for our children its a tragedy for the entire country,” Ms Tinetti says.

The NZEI submitted to the inquiry, calling for the Government to join other parties in a collaborative approach to end homelessness and child poverty.

“We support the inquiry’s recommendations, including a national strategy to end homelessness, and also the recommendation to build more affordable homes,” Ms Tinetti says.

“There is growing evidence that a lack of affordable housing in Auckland, in particular is contributing to teacher shortages.

“We applaud the Labour, Green and Maori Parties’ initiative in establishing the inquiry and we call on the Government to collaborate on cross-party solutions.”

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