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Mallard Makes Life Harder for Foreign Students

Mallard Makes Life Harder for Foreign Students

The Education Minister is worsening a difficult situation for foreign students by remaining silent while unions make strident attacks on their presence in New Zealand schools, ACT Education Spokesman Donna Awatere Huata said today.

"Mr Mallard didn't respond yesterday when secondary teachers' union (PPTA) president Jen McCutcheon called for a "cap" on foreign fee-paying student numbers. But surely he must act today in response to the primary teachers' union's (NZEI) even more extreme call for a "halt" to foreign fee-paying student enrolments.

"The primary teachers' union wants these kids' enrolments to be halted at least until the mixture of cultures can be produced "in a planned way, not the ad hoc approach that's happening now".

"In other words, this union wants to dictate how many children of each culture are in a classroom. The image of Government and unions dictating racial quotas for schools is an extremely repugnant one.

"Ministry of Education figures supplied to me by the PPTA show foreign fee-paying students make up one percent of primary schools. In fact, the vast majority of primary schools don't even have a single foreign fee-paying student. The 335 schools that do have an average of five students each.

"Mr Mallard's silence deeply worries me. I sincerely hope the Minister will not sacrifice his values - and one billion dollars worth of income - because his Government is panicked by the New Zealand First party.

"If the secondary teachers' union wants to become PPTA First, or NZEI wants to affiliate itself to the Winston Peters fan club, then the organisations' membership numbers will suffer as a result. But Mr Mallard has no excuse for tagging along.

"The Education Minister may think that remaining silent has no consequences, because foreign students don't vote in New Zealand elections. But if he continues to remain silent in the face of such ill-judged calls from unions, he will make life harder and harder for the kids from overseas who are already in this country's schools," Mrs Awatere Huata said.

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