All primary, intermediate, secondary school and kura students will have access to free period products from June this year, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Associate Education Minister Jan Tinetti announced today.
The announcement follows a successful Access to Period Products pilot programme, which has been running since Term 3 last year in 15 schools and kura in the Waikato region.
“Young people should not miss out on their education because of something that is a normal part of life for half the population,” Ardern said.
“Removing barriers to healthy, active, educational outcomes for children and young people is an important part of the government’s youth and wellbeing strategy.”
Speaking at Fairfield College in Hamilton, which took part in the pilot, Jacinda Ardern said feedback from the students was that period products should be made available for all who need them, when they need them.
“The positive response from schools and students to the pilot has encouraged us to expand the initiative to all New Zealand schools and kura,” said Jacinda Ardern.
Some 3200 young people were provided with period products during the pilot.
Tinetti said issues with periods at school included embarrassment, stigma, missing classes, being “caught out” without product, cost, lack of knowledge and discomfort.
“Feedback from the pilot noted that providing choice was important, both in types of products and the way they are accessed. Students also said they wanted information about periods, period products, and other practical elements of managing their period such as tracking and knowing when and who to reach out to for assistance.”
The Ministry of Education will work with suppliers to manage a phased rollout of the scheme, with period products available toward the end of Term 2 for schools and kura that opt in by March of this year. Those schools and kura that do not initially choose to take up the initiative will continue to be able to opt in to the initiative at a later date.
“Providing free period products at school is one way the government can directly address poverty, help increase school attendance, and make a positive impact on children’s wellbeing,” Ardern said.
“We want to see improved engagement, learning and behaviour, fewer young people missing school because of their period, and reduced financial hardship amongst families of participating students.”
“The free period products in school’s initiative is the latest in a series of government programmes to reduce barriers to education for all students and their whānau. Others in the series include healthy free school lunches, the abolition of exam fees, and the replacement of school donations,” Tinetti says.
Ardern and Tinetti thanked the 15 Waikato schools and kura for their participation in and contribution to the scheme.