Let business help schools, says Dame
Wed, 20 Feb 2013 10:14a.m.
By Dan Satherley
Book publisher and children's literacy advocate Dame Wendy Pye says in one year, she could have every child in New Zealand able to read, if given the chance.
Speaking to Firstline this morning, Dame Wendy said Kiwis have a "hang-up" about business involvement in the education system, unlike in other countries.
"My dream would be to form a small group of different publishers – not necessarily just myself – and the Government, and say, let's make it happen," says Dame Wendy.
"Every child should read fluently at the first year of reading, and we can make it happen in one year. We do it in other countries, so why can't we do it in New Zealand?"
Wendy Pye Publishing has deals with a number of governments around the world, including states in Australia, but can't get into the New Zealand education system.
"It's becoming better, but I think there's a bit of a hang-up that this is the job of the Government, and this is the job of private enterprise, and people have a problem.
"Where in other countries, people see education as [presenting] large opportunities where private enterprise is invited in. Even the Victorian government invite us in… but in New Zealand we don't have a package like that, which is sad."
Dame Wendy says her company has recently expanded into Pakistan, teaching young girls to read. Fourteen-year-old Pakistani girl Malala Yousafzai was last year shot by the Taliban for advocating girls' education.
"Asia is a growing market, because people want to learn English at a very young age… We're working with Pakistan, India and also working with Ghana and other countries like that in Africa, because Africa's a great emerging country (sic).
"I imagine they're going to wire up the whole of Africa with mobile devices and so we can get into the villages. But in Pakistan we're going to concentrate on helping girls learn to read, because I have a passion for that."
The strong New Zealand dollar is posing a challenge, but Dame Wendy says it won't stop her.
"What can you do? You've just got to get on with life, haven't you?"
In the three decades since Dame Wendy decided she wanted to help children learn to read, her companies have produced more than 2000 titles that have sold more than 200 million copies worldwide.
Her work was acknowledged when she was made a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the New Year Honours list.
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21/02/2013 8:17:54 a.m.
The question is not whether or not they do well, but whether or not they'd do well without govt funding Cherie. What the headline should read is 'Let business help themselves'. Charter schools get to operate outside of the usual govt rules and regulations, (like having qualified teachers) that restrict and govern public schools. They usually have smaller classroom sizes and get 'all' of their funding allocated to them directly from the govt coffers. The motive for getting them up and running to work with 'under achieving' students is a joke and in the US,(I've taught there), poor students and their parents are encouraged to attend lottery type meetings before the school year starts, where a relatively small number of opportunities are raffled off to the lucky winners... pathetic. Studies in the US show they do not have a significantly higher graduation rate than public schools anyway. If private groups want to run schools outside public school parameters for profit, that's fine and they are welcome to create more diversity in the field of learning. But they can just go and fund it themselves like any other private or religious school does already. Educating our kids is not and shouldn't be primarily a state funded commercial opportunity.It's not the responsibility of the taxpayer to fund private businesses whether they are schools, hospitals, restaurants or casinos.Ah and the reason a lot of the charter schools deem themselves 'successful' is they can fall back on the state funding if/when they mess up...that qualify Alison's statement enough for you?
20/02/2013 2:22:20 p.m.
@ alison you need to qualify your statement.
I have yet to read a complete fail for charter schools overseas. There appears to be very many that do extremely well. Its like anything I guess if you are not held to account then you wont achieve. Oops we have that here with teachers who dont want their performance look at.
20/02/2013 11:49:43 a.m.
I dont think NZers have any problem with businesses helping schools. All I have affiliated with have and do have businesses on board to help with projects and sponsorship. I do have a problem with businesses trying to take over the running of schools for their own benefit and as has been shown with charter schools overseas is not working. There are maori trusts that have set up reading programmes. Perhaps Dame Wendy Pye has not heard of these. I am sure any school she approached would welcome her help.
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