Education experts concerned as Kiwi kids lose interest in reading

A new report suggests a growing number of Kiwi kids are turning off reading - with more than a quarter of 15-year-olds claiming "reading is a waste of time".

The Ministry of Education's Chief Education Science Advisor report says literacy levels are much lower than where they should be.

It shows a lacking number of children who enjoy reading for pleasure, with more than half of 15-year-olds saying, "I read only if I have to".

"The evidence that's in this report suggests we should have an overall, I call it, a lifecourse approach to making a difference," said Prof Stuart McNaughton, chief education scientific advisor.

But Perry Rush, National President of the New Zealand Principals' Federation said the system doesn't need to be fixed - children just need to put down their screens.  

"The critical concern is around the amount of time that young people are spending on screens and the amount of time that is taking away from other really important things like literacy, like language, like the ability to enjoy a good book."

Minister of Education Chris Hipkins disagrees, saying it's also about changes to the curriculum.

"Narrowing the curriculum down in New Zealand had a bit of an impact. If you drill into them, results are going to be worse," he said.

This is also something the Prime Minister wants to turn around. Earlier in August, Jacinda Ardern announced the new role of Reading Ambassador to encourage reading among young people.

"We know from research that reading for pleasure makes a huge difference to a child's wellbeing and their potential for life-long success - in personal relationships, education, health and employment," she said.