This week, the majority of children in New Zealand will be expected to return to school, however, for many families, sending children back to school is unaffordable.
Recent data on attendance rates in New Zealand paints a bleak picture. In term 3 of 2023, the Ministry of Education reported that only 45.9% of kiwi kids attended school or kura regularly. Recent data from the United States shows around 70% of children in the United States attend school regularly, even in the tail of COVID-19 and the face of the cost-of-living crisis. Given this comparison, it is clear that New Zealand is falling behind.
Poverty plays a large factor in attendance. Children are often kept at home because they are sharing uniforms or shoes, do not have food for lunch, or do not have the correct school supplies. Older children are often required to work to help support the family too. Tamaki College in Auckland reported that students were working up to 47 hours a week to help support their families.
Giving children the education they both need and deserve is a top priority of the Catalytic Foundation and its donors. We know that education is key to breaking the poverty cycle. We know that New Zealand needs a well-educated workforce to advance as participants on the world stage and to be able to provide better living conditions for future generations. We know that by working together, we can remove the barriers to education that children, particularly those living in poverty, face.
To address this issue, we support many grassroots charities throughout Aotearoa who help families and children deal with hardship and embrace education. We also support the charities we work alongside, schools, and other institutions with our Backpacks4Education campaign, which runs in the first quarter of each year.
The Backpacks4Education campaign ensures children have the essential equipment they need to go to school: a backpack, lunch box, drink bottle, pencil case and stationery, and workbooks.
We need your help, please consider getting your workplace involved and/or individually contribute to this campaign. We have opened up our giving platform for this campaign and also encourage people to sign up for regular payday giving. You will receive a tax invoice for the donations you make throughout the year.
Your generosity will not only help children living in hardship, but by having classes regularly attended by all students, every student in that class benefits because there are fewer disruptions with all children learning content at the same time.