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Bursary Review A First Step

11 February 2004

Bursary Review A First Step

A full review of boarding school bursaries is an important first step to recognising the high cost of educating children who live in remote areas, said Charlie Pedersen, Vice-President of Federated Farmers of New Zealand (Inc).

His comments follow Education Minister Trevor Mallard saying that the boarding bursary will increase 17 percent, and that he will "thoroughly review" the bursary this year. The bursaries are awarded to pupils obliged to board away from home to receive an education.

Farmers, farm workers, and share milkers have faced sharp rises in the cost of sending their children to school since the bursary last rose in 1994. Rural school closures mean more children are likely to be sent to boarding schools.

In the review, Federated Farmers will be pushing for the establishment of a clear methodology for setting boarding bursaries.

"If the level of the bursary was based on a clearly understood and justifiable formula then the current situation of the gradual deterioration of the level of assistance would be avoided."

Mr Pedersen commended Mr Mallard for recognising that boarding fees and education costs linked to geographical isolation were hurting rural families.

“We have been advocating for a change to the boarding bursary for a long time and our members will welcome this long-overdue adjustment,” he said.

“But 17 percent is just a start and we will be keeping a very close eye on the outcome of the review at the end of the year.

“This increase is an acknowledgement that these costs are a real issue for the whole rural community -- farmers and workers alike. A comprehensive review is now required to look at how these costs are impacting on children's access to education,” he said.

Ends

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