Education one of the main focuses at National's campaign launch today

By Peata Melbourne

Education was one of the main focuses at National's campaign launch today with the governing party set to spend $380 million on children's education, which will include a second language subject.

Around 3000 turned up to National's pre-election campaign today.

Following the boost to education announcement, Prime Minister Bill English boasted of his party's successes for Māori.

"The improvement among Māori students is quite striking. Three out of every four Māori students now achieve NCEA Level 2. A few years ago, it was around half. "

The package includes digital learning, raising maths achievement, online tracking of a child's learning progress, and learning a second language.

In addressing the crowd, Bill English said, "The third part of our package is a $160 million investment to give all primary schoolchildren who chose it the opportunity to learn a second language."

But when asked why te reo Māori isn't being made compulsory, Education Minister Nikki Kaye said, "It's a whole principle that we don't want to force anyone to do something they don't want to do and actually the motivation is very important in learning. But what I would say is that in NZ at the moment, if you want to you have a right to learn te reo but again I think part of this package is about resourcing that."

There's expected to be at least 10 options including Spanish, Japanese and Mandarin. But the government says it is the schools who will make the decision about which will be a priority.