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Rhetoric on Maori Student Loans is Plain Wrong

24 November 2004

Rhetoric on Maori Student Loans is Plain Wrong

National Maori Student Association Te Mana Akonga should stop anti-loan rhetoric and look at the facts, Education Forum Policy Advisor Norman LaRocque said today in response to criticisms of the loan scheme.

“Rather than focusing on the level of student debt held by Maori, Te Mana Akonga should focus on the significant investment in human capital and the significant gains for Maori that the student loan scheme has facilitated.

“The amount of debt has been accumulated because of Maori students' investment in tertiary education, which represents a significant asset. Is Te Mana Akonga arguing that Maori students' education has been worthless and that no such asset exists?”

“Maori have benefited enormously from the tertiary education reforms introduced since 1990 – including the introduction of the student loan scheme, the greater diversity of tertiary education provision, the introduction of funding for private tertiary education providers and the introduction of a student-driven funding system,” Mr LaRocque said.

Government statistics document the gains made by Maori in recent years. In particular:

• Maori tertiary participation is up. The number of Maori students enrolled in formal tertiary education almost doubled (from 33,600 to 63,700) between 1997 and 2003; •

The number of Maori completing tertiary qualifications is up. The number of Maori completing qualifications in tertiary education providers almost doubled (from 6,500 to 12,700) between 1997 and 2001. Similarly, the number of Maori students completing diploma courses increased by 168% and the number completing certificate courses increased by 120% between 2000 and 2002 •

Maori participation in industry training is up. The number of Maori industry trainees grew by 60% between December 2000 and June 2004; and •

Maori participation in private tertiary education is up. The number of Maori students enrolled in private training establishments rose by some 60% between 1999 and 2003.

“The successes of Maori in recent years contradict the doomsday scenario being peddled by Te Mana Akonga. While many challenges remain for Maori in education, these will not be overcome by pouring hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars into student allowances for non-Maori, as advocated by the association.

“Media reporting of the Te Mana Akonga criticisms must provide room for other points of view on the issue – and for the facts.

“Sound education policies focussing on earlier levels of education and targeted assistance at the tertiary education level – rather than political campaigns from unrepresentative student associations – are much more likely to provide Maori with the educational base needed to improve social and economic outcomes in the future,” said Mr LaRocque.


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