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Will Don Brash Meet the Merrill-Lynch Prediction?

Will Don Brash Meet the Merrill-Lynch Prediction?

Four years ago investment bankers Merrill Lynch predicted that through GATS (the General Agreement on Trade in Services) and commercial pressures all education worldwide would be privatised within 10 years and that there would be massive profits to be made for multinational corporations.

To meet the Merrill Lynch prediction Brash will have just 6 years to do the New Zealand end of the job but his policies mean he will be off to a flying start if National is elected to power on Saturday. They begin with the disembowelling and dismantling of our public schooling system while extending privatisation in the Early Childhood and Tertiary sectors.

Taken together these policies represent the greatest threat to public education in the history of New Zealand.

They are in line with policies of global financial institutions such as the World Trade Organisation, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank as well as their local cheerleaders - the Business Roundtable and its education committee the Education Forum.

Brash’s privatisation policies include –

Establishing so-called “Trust” schools. These are a half way house to full privatisation. The “trust” owns the school land and property and will be able to raise funds privately by issuing shares etc (This is occurring now in Auckland with the Auckland Energy Consumer Trust issuing shares in Vector so that our community owned power company is now part privatised)

Introducing compulsory bulk funding of schools. This would cut the final link between educational need and government funding and accelerate the differentiation between schools – “winner schools” in high income communities and “loser schools” in low income communities. Loser schools would become social welfare “basket cases” for the poor while schools in wealthy communities are privatised.

Education vouchers for extra tuition for students falling behind. The extra money is welcomed but the mechanism is designed to pump up the private sector and prepare the way for full vouchers – the holy grail for big business in education.

Increasing government funding to private schools (from 1994 to 1999 National increased state funding to private schools by 220%. This meant for example that government funding for Kings College increased to more than $2 million per year despite the far greater educational need at public schools such as the underfunded Otahuhu College on the other side of the wire mesh fence from Kings!)

In its place their policies would progressively lead to a privatised education system where quality is based on the ability to pay rather than as a right of citizenship.

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