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Students loans $300m - School Ops Grants $0

28 July 2005

Students loans $300m - School Ops Grants $0

The New Zealand School Trustees Association is amazed the Government has “found” $300 million to wipe interest on student debt – yet continually refuses to adequately fund the operations grant for compulsory schooling.

President Chris Haines says the Government’s announcement is difficult to fathom, when the current level of funding for school operational grants is woefully lacking. School boards are left with no option but to continue to use non-government funds, including locally raised funds, to prop up “free” education.

“I’m sure there will be many boards of trustees and principals of schools wondering why the government apparently finds it so difficult to adequately fund them, yet is able to hand out hundreds of millions of dollars to students who have already left the compulsory education sector, and who have chosen to undertake tertiary education.”

“Communities are increasingly putting their hands in their pockets to pay for basic education requirements – we are not talking about paying for the ‘nice-to-have’ extras.”

Chris Haines says independent research over the past year has shown that many primary and secondary schools cannot provide core programmes on government funding alone, and that schools are “topping” up the government’s contribution to make ends meet.

“I can sympathise to some extent with students having to incur debt to undertake tertiary study, but to make the reduction of this debt a priority over adequate funding for the running of schools just does not make sense.”

He says the government has undertaken to review the adequacy of operational grant funding next year, however any results that may come from that would not apply till 2008.

“In the meantime, boards of trustees and principals are forced to make ends meet by propping up our so called “free” education system. Ultimately, the community cops a significant proportion of the cost of the ongoing government underfunding as they are the ones that pay the taxes, as well as the school donations, activities fees and other costs.”


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