Low-decile schools feel the brunt of lockdown as students drop out

By Mare Haimona-Riki

Some students from low-decile schools in Auckland are having to choose between attending school, and working fulltime to support their family,  Haley Milne (Kai Tahu), principal at Kia Aroha College in Otara says.    

This 'choice' comes as a result of the economic impacts that COVID-19 has had on their families from the first round of lockdown, and Milne (Kai Tahu) says that history could repeat itself this second time around.

“For many of our young people, poverty is real,” she says.

“So yes, some of our students are having to choose between their education, and supporting their families.”

However, this issue is not an isolated one, as Kiri Turketo, principal at Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate Junior School says she anticipates some of her students not even bothering to come back when the lockdown is lifted. 

"Especially since it is the almost the end of the year, some of our students might think it's not even worth coming back to school, especially if they are already worried about their NCEA results so far in the year," Turketo says. 

Keeping track

Kia Aroha College is the only school that does not have external exams; not only so but their students start NCEA at year 10 as opposed to year 11.

This means many of their students are a year ahead in terms of their education. 

“This is why, in some cases, there have been times that we have encouraged some of our young people who have got all of their NCEA requirements to help out their whānau."

Resources are also hard to come by for their school, says Milne, as 97% of their families don't have internet access, making learning from home near impossible, and with help from the Ministry of Education not being the fastest process, the school has taken matters into its own hands.

“We bought our own laptops and ordered laptops from the ministry that came well after lockdown, and we bought modems that we distributed out to families. 

Milne says the college has a comprehensive way of keeping track of their students' progress during the lockdown, through their whānau centre by checking in with all of their students' at least once a week. 

“We ultimately ask ourselves: What are the things that we can do to make life easier for our young people, and that's always been our Kia Aroha way,” Milne says.