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Debt-Free Women Key To Our Children's Future

Research released by the Ministry of Education supports student calls to have the Student Loan Scheme abolished. Keith Clark, President of the Aotearoa Tertiary Students Association (ATSA) stated that "Cathy Wylie's Competent Children survey highlighted the importance of investing in the future of New Zealand by releasing women students from a lifetime of debt."

"Student Associations have been calling for the abolition of the Student Loan Scheme which is bad for all and worse for women for some time now. When will the government listen?" asked Clark. "Surely, in light of the research released by the Ministry of Education, the government must be able to make the link between the importance of educating future mothers, and the need to remove a scheme which is a barrier and a burden on women".

The recent research released from the Wylie study reveals that a well educated mother could mean the difference between a child passing or failing at school. "In light of this research, how can the government continue to support a student loan scheme which discourages women from studying, or commits them to a lifetime of debt?" asked Clark.

Research undertaken by ATSA and NZUSA in 1999 showed the loan system to be sexist, with the average time taken for a woman to repay her student loan rising to 51 years, compared to the average repayment time of 17 years for men. "At what cost education to our children's futures?" asked Clark. "Why are we punishing women for furthering their education with huge debt, when these women have been shown by the government itself to be the key factor in their children's future success?"

"As long as this government continues with the current system of user-pays education, women will continue to suffer", stated Clark. "This government needs to take action now, otherwise women will be discouraged from entering into further study because of debt burden.

Both the National Council of Women and the Business and Professional Women of New Zealand have identified student debt as a problem which will cause gender and pay inequalities in the work force, creating future social and economic impacts. "Students have continually stated that the loan scheme is bad for all and worse for women." said Clark. "Now that the Ministry of Education has shown the importance of educating women, students want to know when will the government take action to invest in our collective future."


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