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Community education used as a political scapegoat

Time to stop using community education as a political scapegoat

The Aotearoa Tertiary Students' Association - Te Whanau Tauira o Aotearoa (ATSA) is concerned that the current debate about the appropriateness of some community education courses is diverting attention away from the very real benefits most community courses provide to learners and their local communities.

"The Tertiary Education Commission and the Ministry of Education are all fully aware of the situation and the government made it clear in a press release on the 3 March that action will be taken to limit access to community education through the funding system." ATSA national president Julie Pettett stated today. "It is important to remember, however, that the community funding regime was introduced in 1997 and has provided confidence-building and skills-development training to literally hundreds of thousands of mature and second-chance learners throughout the country."

ATSA accepts that while some of the courses offered may not fit within the new tertiary education framework, decisions about future funding for them are best made in a considered and rational manner. "The increasingly political attacks and incorrect claims about the delivery of community education by some regional polytechnics should stop." Pettett said. "Many of these courses deliver life and career enhancing skills to educationally marginalised people in the regions and it would be a very sad day if they were totally axed on the basis of misinformed political and media debate."

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