Thursday, June 18, 2009

Open Tertiary Education for Maori?

Yesterday Pita Sharples made public his wish to make Tertiary education open to Maori, long story short this means that Maori get automatic entry no matter how they achieve or not at a Secondary School level.

Mr. Sharples intentions, it would appear, are to redress the failure with young Maori students at Secondary School, less than 50% of Maori students leave Secondary School with NCEA level three. Mr. Sharples has linked colonization and schools not being set up for Maori to succeed as the reason for the horrendous failure rate.

The response from NZ in the last 24 hours has been immediate and exacting. New Zealanders don’t want to see this. It’s deemed as racist and separatist, some are also saying that it is patronizing to Maori saying that they cannot achieve at a secondary school level. One other thought is that if Maori can get guaranteed entry to University, no matter how the achieve at secondary school, would that not be a disincentive for some to do any work at school at all?

While I don’t agree with the emotive response of ‘racism’ or ‘separatism’, I don’t support this idea any more than the people who are comfortable with those terms. I would, however, use the term ‘misguided’, rather than ‘subversive’ which some people seem to think Mr. Sharples is. I believe his reasons for seeking a solution to this issue is genuine, and have to admit, no one else is speaking up about this issue, so should we hang the man for making this suggestion, No of course not.

And for those who think that Maori should just pull finger and get on with life, it’s no one else’s problem but theirs that they don’t succeed, let me pose this question…if it is a Maori issue, then why, in every country that has been colonized but white Europeans, that now has a majority white population (Australia, USA, NZ etc…), are the indigenous people at the bottom of the pile in every aspect of life from education to crime to income…and beyond?

When that question is answered, ideas like Pita Sharples ones will be irrelevant as we will have found equity and we will truly be one country, one people.