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Mallard's dash for cash short-changes communities


4 July, 2003

Mallard's dash for cash short-changes communities

The Green Party has accused Education Minister Trevor Mallard of conducting a heartless cash-grab for Government pet projects at the expense of viable community schools in rural and provincial areas.

Green Education spokesperson Metiria Turei has disputed Mr Mallard's assertions that the money saved from the closures would be directed back into education, saying she has documents that prove otherwise.

"Despite the Minister's claims, 50 per cent of the savings from this asset stripping will be taken away from education and absorbed into the consolidated fund after an initial period," said Metiria.

"This is stealing from children to fund the Government pet projects like the Cullen Fund.

"There are many children in lower decile and rural schools who are at risk of being deprived of the particular skills and resources tailored to ensuring they receive the best education for their situation.

"The children who need help the most will be forced to the back of the class by the closure of many of these schools."

Metiria said many smaller communities that are big enough to support a viable school would be condemned by Mr Mallard's dash for cash.

"While some mergers may be appropriate, I urge the Minister not to neglect the fact that schools are an essential component of a viable community," said Metiria

"I reject his comments that people opposed to school mergers were attached to only the buildings and not a good education for their children. That is simply not true.

"Schools are also a community resource used for much more than just teaching. They are not just bricks and mortar but often the centre of connections between a community's folks.

"This move is short-sighted. If the Government is committed to regional economic development and an immigration policy aimed at attracting new migrants to regional areas then why would it remove one of the biggest factors for a migrant family choosing to live outside Auckland?" asked Metiria.

ENDS

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