Labour leader David Shearer last week announced a new education policy initiative – feeding children in low decile schools across New Zealand. Labour has costed it at $19million per annum. Hone Harawira was promoting the same initiative as Mana Party policy during last year’s election. KidsCan announced today that by working jointly with the private sector and government agencies they could do it for a mere $4million per annum.
Even at $19million it is a drop in the bucket of public expenditure – however it is a drop that would have a positive ripple effect across the entire education budget. Why spend billions trying to teach hungry children who can’t even concentrate? This is a simple, straightforward policy that would have a strong impact, leveraging the existing investment in the sector. And it could be done without the need for any extra policy analysts at the ministry, or any more frameworks….etc etc
Yes we need to address the underlying drivers of child poverty – in particular the breakdown of family life. However that is a long term generational task. In the meantime let’s feed the children – it’s a bargain.