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Mallard Attacks English And Hints At New Policy

Mallard Attacks English And Hints At New Loan Policy

Education Minister Trevor Mallard.

Before the Prime Minister took any questions at yesterday's post cabinet press conference, Education Minister Trevor Mallard found time to attack Bill English’s latest press statement and hint at impending changes regarding student loan repayments.

Mr Mallard reacted strongly to statements by Mr English concerning funding of schools and teachers.

In a recent press statement Mr English had accused Mr Mallard of confusing the public around the issue of educational funding.

“Mr Mallard confirmed that 2700 schools received an increase of $22 million in operational funding in the last budget, while the Ministry of Education received an increase of $24 million. He tries to muddy the waters by counting increases in teacher salaries as increased money schools can spend.”

Mr Mallard was less than impressed with the way Mr English chose to look at how funding is allocated.

“The Labour Party thinks that teachers are the most valuable resource within schools. All the evidence shows that well trained teachers make the biggest difference to kids and to say that they don’t count is something, which I think, is appalling,” he said.

Mr Mallard considered Mr English’s approach to educational funding ‘interesting’.

“Bill English thinks that if you put more money into teachers then that should not count as school funding.”

This week the Government and a large number of its MPs will be pushing the work that has been done in education. MPs will be visiting decile one to three schools and giving out books.

“We put about a million dollars a year into ‘Duffy Books’. A lot of MPs enjoy reading some of their favourite books and then talking about literacy development,” explained Mr Mallard.

Mr Mallard considered that more could be done to assist literacy in New Zealand, and found time for a sly dig at the media and their recent coverage of the Government.

“I know that from reading the papers and watching television you can’t always tell – but New Zealand has literacy levels that are 2nd in the world,” he said.

The prospect of changes surrounding the student loan scheme was also hinted at by Mr Mallard. These changes would be aimed at reducing the amount of time it takes to pay back a student loan.

“What I am considering is a measure or a package of measures to get that down, and that could be down either through fees or allowances or loan conditions and you won’t get the policy till it is announced.”

Just when that might be, was not made clear by Mr Mallard

“In the fullness of time and at the appropriate moment,” he said.


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