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Schools Can Choose Own Extra-Curricular Spaces

5 March 2004

Schools can choose their own extra-curricular spaces

Green MP Metiria Turei says schools should be able to use their funds to meet the extra-curricular needs of students, whether those needs are for religious facilities or sporting resources.

Ms Turei is supporting Hagley Community College in their argument with Trevor Mallard over the school's Muslim prayer room.

"There's really no difference between providing a mosque and, say, a cricket pavilion," said Ms Turei, the Green Party Spokesperson on Education, Ethnic Affairs and Immigration.

"Not everyone plays cricket, not everyone is Muslim - but both are extra-curricular needs that can be met by schools so students can develop as rounded and un-alienated individuals.

"Spaces can be provided for all the social, sporting, cultural and religious needs of students.

"Each school will determine the best use of their resources with their community. For some that means building marae, for others sporting facilities and for others Pacifica rooms. Hagley Community College is meeting the needs of a significant section of its school community. That exactly what it should be doing.

"The Minister's suggestion that government education funding should go solely towards the curriculum flies in the face of reality," said Ms Turei.

"Is Trevor Mallard going to encourage schools to ditch their debating clubs or girl-friendly spaces because its not strictly 'educational'?"

Ms Turei insists that the provision of a prayer room does not disturb the principle of secular education because students are not being given religious instruction. A room for people to practice their religion is not the provision of religious education, which is not appropriate in state schools.

"Hagley Community College is meeting the needs of their students and has been asked to take on refugee students precisely because they are well equipped to do so. An inclusive, holistic approach to school life aids overseas students with their harmonious integration into New Zealand society.

"To ask our new citizens, many of whom are disorientated on their initial arrival, to immediately and completely abandon their cultural practices and identity is unreasonable, unrealistic and at odds with providing a proper welcome to our nation."


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