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Economic Forecasters Condemn School Closures

Economic Forecasters Condemn School Closures

Thursday 18 Dec 2003 Deborah Coddington Press Releases -- Education -- Save Our Schools

Education Minister Trevor Mallard's insatiable appetite for closing schools could hinder economic growth in those areas currently undergoing network reviews, ACT New Zealand Education Spokesman Deborah Coddington said today.

"Respected economic forecaster Business and Economic Research Ltd yesterday released its annual report card and forecasts for the New Zealand economy. It is damning of Mr Mallard's failure to recognise regional development strategies in his haste to shut down over 300 schools in the next 10 years," Miss Coddington said.

"The Minister's programme of network reviews has been flawed from the start. The report highlights his failure to seek: `input to or from the region's economic development strategy and/or their consequent regional initiatives. If so, the key role of the education sector as a driver of economic activity in a region is being clearly overlooked.'

"The report goes on to say: `In turn this can only be to the detriment of regions abilities to attract people, development and, thereby, jobs'. I wonder how Mr Mallard will explain these findings to the people of Northland, Wairoa, Coastal Taranaki, Wairarapa, West Coast, Timaru and Southland?

"This report doesn't come as a surprise. Federated Farmers President Tom Lambie - quite correctly - has described Mr Mallard's short-sighted school closures campaign as a death knell for rural communities.

"The Minister is quick to say it's not just rural schools being targeted for closure. What he chooses to ignore is that many provincial schools enrol students from the rural hinterland. If these schools close, and there is no school nearby, families will stop moving to these areas - entire communities will vanish.

"The economic and social impacts of school closures on New Zealand communities will be enormous. Mr Mallard must take stock of this report, consider its findings, and put an end to this madness," Miss Coddington said.

ENDS

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.


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