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More fuel for probe into language schools

Hon Bill English MP National Party Education Spokesman & Pansy Wong MP National Party Asian Relationships Spokeswoman

19 January 2004

More fuel for probe into language schools

The announcement that a further six English language schools are to close gives fresh urgency to the call for an inquiry into New Zealand's $1.7 billion export education industry, according to two National Party MPs.

"An inquiry is necessary to properly define the roles of the NZQA, the Ministry of Education, the Education Review Office, the state education sector, the private education sector, agents, homestays and everyone else aligned with the industry," says National's Asian Relationships spokeswoman Pansy Wong.

"The Education Minister tried and failed to stimulate interest from China last year - since then he's been predicting doom. It now looks like he's walking away from one of our major export industries," says National's Education spokesman Bill English.

The MPs are calling for an inquiry into export education, which has been New Zealand's fifth largest export industry, currently contributing $1.7 billion to the economy annually.

"The Labour Government claims to be an ardent supporter of the sector. It has been happy to reap the indirect economic benefits, as well as the direct benefit of seeing state schools subsidised by international students," says Mrs Wong.

"But when things go wrong and schools close, export education is shunted into the too-hard basket. It was too easy for the Government to claim that the sector's downturn is a sign it has exceeded a 'viable' level and was inevitable," Mr English says.

"We cannot afford to sit back and watch our fifth largest export earner go down the drain. Imagine if Sir Edmund Hillary had said that Everest was too high to conquer," says Mrs Wong.

Ends

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