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Minister defends sing-along courses

Minister defends sing-along courses

National's education spokesman Bill English says he is shocked that Steve Maharey is defending Maori sing-along-to-the-radio courses, costing the taxpayer $15 million a year.

"Steve Maharey has told the media the courses are 'worthwhile' and 'effective'. By endorsing these dubious schemes the Minister is taking valuable funds away from more needy areas in tertiary education.

"Mr Maharey's defence of these courses is confusing given that last week the Government said they would slash funding and cut student numbers, after finding that $115 million is being paid for community education of 'debateable quality'."

The Eastern Institute of Technology enrolled some 8000 people in its' free He Waiata Ma te Whanau course last year at a cost of $4 million and is intending to run the course again in July this year.

The course, advertised at http://www.eit.ac.nz/index.php?p=134 offers participants the chance to 'Relax in the comfort of your own home' and 'just sing-along.'

"EIT is one of a number of institutions receiving funding for running community education programmes of dubious quality, leading to a $115 million dollar blow-out in spending this year.

"This has occurred despite the birth last year of Steve Maharey's much talked-about 'steering' mechanism for the tertiary education sector, the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC).

"Is this the new standard of accountability and strategic direction we can expect from the TEC?

"The Minister's support for this scandalous spending of taxpayer funds shows the Government tertiary reforms are well off-track," said Mr English.

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