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Unimaginative Budget for Education

19 May 2006

Unimaginative Budget for Education

Yesterday’s 2006 budget is at best unimaginative as far as education is concerned.

The increases in funding announced for the early childhood sector are welcomed and it appears to be the education budget winner as it was last year. However the value of some of this investment in our pre-schoolers will be lost by its provision to private “for-profit” centres alongside public centres.

The 455 extra primary and special school teachers are also welcomed but this equates overall to just 0.2 teachers per school. Quality learning requires quality teachers but more importantly quality teachers with the time to give the best to all our children. This is too small a step to get excited about.

The biggest disappointment for schools is the lack of adequate resourcing for the operations grant. $95 million over 4 years equates to a 3% increase this year which is below the rate of inflation (inflation was 3.4% up to 31 March this year) which means schools are going backwards with this budget.

We appreciate the government is to report back on it’s review of operations funding by 31 October this year and significant increases will not be forthcoming before then. However the fact that schools are back-pedalling with government funding from this budget simply increases the expectation of very significant movement in school funding from 31 October.

In tertiary education the lack of imagination continues with only minimal improvements in eligibility for student allowances (up just 10% from a very low base) and no move on tertiary fees. The removal of interest payments on student loans announced last year was welcomed at one level but it appears now to be a mechanism being used to cement in place a “user pays” model for tertiary education with fees rising each year well above the rate of inflation for most courses.

If this were an NCEA achievement standard the assessment of this budget would be Not Achieved.

ENDS

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