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Brash demonstrates his ignorance again

17 May 2004

Brash demonstrates his ignorance again

National leader Don Brash’s ill-informed latest attack on Maori tertiary students confirms he has no idea what he is talking about and has instead resorted to making up stories, Associate Education (Tertiary Education) Minister Steve Maharey said today.

The comments come in response to a speech by Dr Brash to National party members over the weekend where he claimed Maori were failing in the tertiary education system and implied Maori were predominantly enroled in community education programmes.

Steve Maharey said the Labour-led government had invested heavily in education as a pathway out of disadvantage and had extensively consulted Maori, business and other stakeholders about the skills all New Zealanders need to suceed in the 21st century.

“Official statistics tell exactly the opposite picture to the one painted by Dr Brash. He has again demonstrated he does not understand the issues and has still announced no policy in this area.

“Maori enrolment in tertiary education is one of the great success stories of this government. According to Ministry of Education tertiary education statistics, Maori participation in tertiary education almost doubled from 1999 to 2003 (from 32,825 to 62,574 students).

“These statistics do not include enrolments in community education, despite Dr Brash’s attempt to insinuate this is the primary cause of growth. The bulk of Maori tertiary enrolments are at wananga – two of which are small specialist institutions, but the majority are at Te Wananga o Aotearoa which is providing a staircase into higher learning for tens of thousands of Maori who have never participated in tertiary education before. As at 31 July 2003, 23,468 Maori students were enrolled at this wananga, almost six times the number of Maori students enrolled with the next largest provider.

“Te Wananga o Aotearoa did not run community education courses in 2002 – and had only 110 community education enrolments in 2003. This despite Dr Brash insinuating these are overwhelming the course Maori are enrolling in.

“In fact, enrolments in community education courses by all students (not just Maori students) comprise a small percentage of overall enrolments and have not even been included in the formal tertiary enrolment statistics (cited above).

. . / 2 “Among other tertiary education indicators: Enrolments by Maori in post-graduate courses have increased by 19 per cent since 1999 (from 1,675 students in 1999 to 2,023 students in 2003). The proportion of Maori (22.8 per cent) aged 15 or over enrolled in tertiary education is higher than the proportion of the non-Maori (13.1 per cent) population. Students studying at wananga (Maori-focused public tertiary insitutions) have the highest rate of progression from certificate level courses to higher level courses in the tertiary sector (higher than students studying at universities, polytechnics, colleges of education and all other tertiary education organisations). In 2002 Maori gained almost 20 per cent of all qualifications completed.

“Calls by Dr Brash for a dialogue with ‘moderate Maori’ on education are four years too late. The government has already done this. This culminated last November in guidelines lauched by an independent reference group on what skills Maori need for the knowledge economy and how tertiary institutions can improve their responsiveness to these needs.

“This is ‘more of the same’ from the man who back in February claimed the nation’s universities were lowering their standards to pass Maori doctors, dentists and other professionals. Those comments were also proven to be wrong.

“These lies have to stop and New Zealanders need to be told that the National party is making up stories once again,” Steve Maharey said.

ENDS

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