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“Public” Funding but “Private” Operation

The Increasingly Murky World of “Public” Funding but “Private” Operation

The issues behind the referral of the Te Kohanga Reo National Trust subsidiary to the Serious Fraud Office by the Minister of Education illustrate the growing complexities of where, how and by whom public funds are ultimately spent.

Recent trends in how public services are delivered have highlighted the problems that are more likely to arise because privately controlled and operated entities are not subject to the same level of scrutiny as public operations.

As the Minister, Hekia Parata said in her press release:

“The challenge remains in all of this for the trust to provide more transparency and accountability, and to do so in a way that allows the Government, the public and its movement to have confidence in it.’’

QPEC supports this principle. But QPEC also feels strongly that the same principle should apply to other instances where public funds make up the majority – if not all – of the income of a privately controlled entity.

This applies to charter schools, which, by definition, are publically funded but privately operated and fall outside of the full ambit of public sector transparency and scrutiny.

State and state-integrated schools have parent-elected Boards of Trustees that must hold open meetings and maintain open records, as our local body governments do. All such meetings are open to any member of the public to attend.

In addition, these schools are subject to the Official Information Act, whereas charter schools are explicitly exempt from the OIA.

The Minister of Education should be consistent and insist on greater transparency from her charter school experiment.

ENDS

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