Around 1680 schools and kura across Aotearoa have opted in to the free period products in schools programme, with others being urged to make the most of the nationwide scheme as it begins to roll out.
Since orders opened at the start of June, the Ministry of Education reports 956 orders have been received with around 78,000 packets of pads and tampons already having been distributed.
The MoE says it is using Blue Star to deliver period products, with the company currently managing orders, warehousing and the distribution of a range of products to schools and kura.
Each school is asked to arrange an appropriate way for students to collect products discreetly depending on what staff feel works best at their school. The Ministry is also working with other organisations such as KidsCan and Dignity that already provide period products to schools to ensure a smooth transition to the Ministry initiative and any supply issues.
In a statement, the Ministry said, “Feedback from schools and kura has continued to highlight the urgent need for products. To address this, phase one of this initiative is focused on delivering products to schools and kura as simply and as quickly as possible.
“We know that many families cannot afford period products for their children and young people. We also know that nearly 95,000 nine to 18-year olds may stay at home because they cannot afford period products.”
The Ministry says providing access to free period products to those who need it in all state and state-integrated schools and kura will:
- reduce barriers to access education and support improved school attendance and participation in sports and cultural activities
- improve child and youth wellbeing
- reduce financial strain on families and whānau experiencing poverty/material hardship
- promote positive gender norms and reduce stigmatisation of menstruation.
During this first phase of the initiative, the Moe says, ‘we will learn as we go, updating our initial learnings from the trial phase, with ongoing engagement and feedback from the distributor, suppliers and schools and kura’.
Schools that have not yet opted-in to the initiative can still do so. As schools and kura continue to opt-in and place orders, product will be progressively distributed to them. Schools and kura need to opt-in to access period products via a simple form.