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School leavers with no qualifications, 1991-2000

In the decade from 1991 to 2000, approximately 9,000 young people left high schools each year with no formal school qualifications. With the national school leaving age having been raised to 16 years in 1993, the majority of these students were aged between 16 and 18 years. As a percentage of the total number of school leavers each year, students leaving without gaining any qualifications increased slightly between 1991 and 2000. In 1991, the almost 8,400 students who left school with no qualifications constituted 16 percent of all school leavers. By 2000, the number of school leavers without qualifications was close to 10,300, or 19 percent of all young people leaving school that year. This decade high was also reached in 1996.

Figure 1

Graph, Proportion of School Leavers with No Qualifications.

The number of exemptions granted to students to leave school before turning 16 years of age has steadily risen from 300 in 1993 to 3200 in 2000. As a percentage of school leavers with no qualifications, students under 16 who were granted exemptions formed 3 percent in 1993, 21 percent in 1996, and 32 percent by 2000.

There is a consistent imbalance between the sexes in the proportions of students leaving school without a formal qualification. Although the total numbers of males and females leaving school each year are generally evenly matched, males regularly comprised 56 to 59 percent of those leaving without any qualifications. Correspondingly, females formed between 41 and 44 percent.

Figure 2

Graph, Proportion of School Leavers with No Qualifications by Sex.

An examination of the ethnic mix of school leavers with no qualifications shows that Māori and Pacific students are over-represented. For Māori students, this over-representation is substantial. Māori students leaving school made up 17 to 19 percent of all school leavers between 1991 to 2000, but 36 to 39 percent of all of students leaving with no qualifications.
Throughout the decade, the representation of Māori among those leaving without qualifications was consistently twice as high as Māori representation among all school leavers. In 1998, Māori school leavers with no qualifications reached a decade high of 39 percent of all school leavers with no qualifications. Although this dropped to 37 percent in 1999 and further to 32 percent in 2000, it is still too early to describe this decrease as a long-term trend.

Figure 3

Graph, Maori and Pacific School Leavers as a Proportion of All School Leavers with No Qualifications.

Māori students leaving school with no qualifications represented 37 percent of all Māori school leavers in 1991. This increased to 39 percent in 1996, but had fallen to 36 percent by 2000. This was significantly higher than the national average of 19 percent of all school leavers who left with no formal qualifications.

Pacific students leaving school consistently made up 6 to 7 percent of all school leavers between 1991 and 2000. Yet Pacific students leaving with no qualifications formed 9 to 10 percent of all students leaving without qualifications over the decade.

Pacific students who leave school with no qualifications also form a notable proportion of all Pacific school leavers. In 1991, 25 percent of Pacific students leaving school had no qualifications. This figure remained reasonably constant over the following years, and ended the decade at 26 percent.

Figure 4

Graph, Proportion of Maori and Pacific School Leavers with No Qualifications.

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