I was disgusted to read in the Herald earlier this week the actions of the New Zealand Immigration service in blocking the access of some international students to attend school. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10586338
Neha, 16, from Kelston Girls’ College, and Nelisha, 13, of Bruce McLaren Intermediate School in Henderson, have been barred from school since June 10, when their mother’s work permit ran out.
Rehana Nazrin Singh, 38, a residential care worker, is appealing against the Immigration New Zealand decision not to renew it.
While the appeal is pending, she has been granted a visitor’s permit.
But her daughters have not been issued with student permits, so cannot go to school.
So lets get the facts clear right at the start, the students were attending school legally and circumstances beyond their control have prevented them from being able to.
Immigration NZ was yesterday unable to say how many children were in the same position.
This is not an isolate incident?
But Kelston Girls’ College said it had two other cases, involving students from the Philippines and Fiji.
An Auckland immigration adviser, Tika Ram, said he had three clients who were appealing against work permit decisions that also affected school-age children.
One school has in total three cases, and an adviser also have three clients, given that in NZ there are thousands of advisers and at around 1,000 schools that must mean a lot of students are being denied their right to education.
Kelston Girls’ principal Linda Fox said immigration law prevented schools from enrolling foreigners who did not have students’ permits.
My first reaction is fair enough, their parents have not paid taxes in NZ so why should they be able to access NZ schools. However, at the same time it costs no more to have an extra kid in a classroom so while the immigration status is being debated in the courts at least let them learn.
“Schools are being put in an awkward situation by the immigration department and the Government. While our first desire is to teach students, the school faces big fines – which we cannot afford – if immigration officials find there are students being enrolled illegally,” Ms Fox said.
The situation is absurd and sad.
“It is totally unfair that the future of these students is being destroyed, and educational opportunities stopped, by some of our immigration rules.”
Ms Fox said she had appealed to Immigration to let students continue their studies “on humanitarian grounds”, but had not yet been advised of its decision.
There should be no need for appeal, while any immigration status is in dispute the children should be able to go to school.
She said Neha is doing NCEA Level 1 this year, without which she could not progress to Year 12 (form 6) if she returned to Fiji and would have to repeat a whole academic year.
So in other words the New Zealand Immigration service is putting someones entire future at risk?
Mr Ram, who is Mrs Singh’s immigration adviser, predicted Immigration NZ would decline many more work permit applications in the recession as more New Zealanders became available to fill job vacancies.
He warned that even more children could be kept from school because of current policy.
Time for a change in policy then?
From Monday, changes to immigration policy will allow children of migrant workers who lose their jobs within a 90-day trial period to qualify as domestic students while their parents remain legally in New Zealand.
But this does not apply to those who have been working longer than the three months.
This sounds great, however the situation here does not apply because the circumstances are different.
Acting Human Rights Chief Commissioner Judy McGregor said it was “entirely unacceptable” that children in New Zealand were being denied education.
“The right to education for children is a core human right here and internationally.”
Last month, TV One reported that an estimated 1100 Pacific Island children could not attend school because their parents were overstayers.
1,100 students is a lot, more than a lot, and this needs to change. Maybe NZ needs to read the UN Rights of a child: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/crc.htm
1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to education, and with a view to achieving this right progressively and on the basis of equal opportunity, they shall, in particular:
(a) Make primary education compulsory and available free to all;
That is right. Free and Available to all. Not based on some silly immigration policy.
(b) Encourage the development of different forms of secondary education, including general and vocational education, make them available and accessible to every child, and take appropriate measures such as the introduction of free education and offering financial assistance in case of need;
Available and Accessible to EVERY child.
(e) Take measures to encourage regular attendance at schools and the reduction of drop-out rates.
Encourage attendance. Not to block it.
Poor form Immigration NZ, poor form.