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Govt to Dismiss Wananga as a “Manufactured Crisis"

Government Plan to Dismiss Wananga Board a “Manufactured Crisis”

The Minister of Education’s threat issued on Monday to sack the Board of Te Wananga O Aotearoa is part of a crisis manufactured by the government rather than created by the Wananga.

It is quite true that many of the Wananga courses have been of questionable quality – QPEC has raised concerns about this in the past – and questions of nepotism in the management systems called for a thorough, independent investigation.

However these concerns – especially in relation to quality – have been around for a long time but the government only showed interest when they were raised in public by opposition politicians.

Fearful of another “Orewa-type” reaction with the public the government moved from inert to knee-jerk and the Minister of Education publicly hammered the Wananga. Inevitably this precipitated a crisis of confidence and the Wananga’s financial problems multiplied rapidly.

So having created the crisis by ignoring concerns and then overreacting the government has manufactured the educational disaster the Minister of Education now purports to solve by dismissing the board.

At the heart of the problem is the government’s market-driven tertiary education policy which has seen a proliferation of low-cost, low quality courses in tertiary education – particularly in the private sector but also in institutions such as Te Wananga O Aotearoa.

For example when Labour became government funding for private tertiary providers was a mere $17 million per year. Three years later this had ballooned to more than $150 million per year. Alongside this Te Wananga O Aotearoa mushroomed to become the largest tertiary education provider in New Zealand in just a few short years.

The political posturing from Education Minister Mallard in acting tough on Maori will appeal to instinctive prejudice among many but is deeply derogatory of Maori education initiatives. It is yet another unfortunately typical “bully-boy” reaction from the Minister.

© Scoop Media

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