Politics | Rangatahi

Budget 2024: What do rangatahi want?

“Right now they are focusingmore on the older generations and it’s not really going to benefit the younger ones”

Shareya Mcleod-Schmidt (Photo: supplied)

Youth Voices Action’s Shareya Mcleod-Schmidt (Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngati Toa Rangatira) believes the top-three priorities for the government over the next three years that affect rangatahi should be a new education system, increased funding for kura and more youth-focused initiatives.

For the “new education system,” she acknowledges there won’t be enough time but she want schools to go back to basics, with limited devices used in classrooms and students returning to pen and paper.

“Since we’ve brought in devices at school, our success rates have dropped.

“You see kids who are still struggling to do basic English but then you also have really advanced kids who can do university work in year 11 and that’s a really big gap, so to close in that gap just teach the basics properly,” she said.

The year 12 Tauranga student also wants New Zealand history to be taught properly without bias.

Mcleod-Schmidt also wants the government to provide more funding to schools for more teachers and smaller classrooms.

More focus on youth

“We don’t have enough teachers, our class sizes are getting up to 35 students a class, which is really chaotic for one teacher and really chaotic for the 34 other kids in the class.”

Additionally, she would like to see more youth-focused policies coming from the coalition government.

“Right now they are focusing more on the older generations and it’s not really going to benefit the younger ones and the up-and-coming future of New Zealand.”

Mcleod-Schmidt is a member of Youth Voices Action (YVA), a Tauranga-based organization that creates safe spaces for rangatahi to share ideas and address issues.

She said YVA wanted to see more mental health services for youth from the upcoming budget.

“The government did put money into Gumboot Friday but that doesn’t really help all of us.

More, counsellors, more kai

“I think this government should invest in having counsellors in every kura because mental health is a big part of coming to school, being able to go to school which the government also wants to encourage.”

Another kaupapa she wants the government to change is something already announced in this year’s budget, The new Ka Ora, Ka Ako programme will see early childhood care students get it but a new model for those in intermediate and secondary schools.

Mcleod-Schmidt wants it to be more accessible to secondary school students as she knows a rangatahi at other schools who don’t receive the current Ka Ora, Ka Ako programme going to school hungry.

“Talking to some kids [from another school], they were saying how it’s kind of sad how they don’t get lunches because a lot of kids there and at [a different school] don’t take kai to school or they can’t buy kai at school because they don’t have the money.

“Not saying that babies don’t need it but it’s more like older kids need the kai to learn at kura whereas early childhood kids are more playing. they still do need kai but usually that’s included into their fees,” she said.

Last week, Te Ao Māori News compiled all of the pre-budget announcements relating to rangatahi. Click here to read more.