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Tairawhiti funding scam: the plot thickens

Hon Bill English

National Education Spokesman

25 May 2004

Tairawhiti funding scam: the plot thickens

The community education funding scam at Gisborne's Tairawhiti Polytechnic is getting more outrageous by the week, says National's Education spokesman, Bill English.

His comments follow revelations that community education students at Tairawhiti were encouraged to enrol in a further free course, in Te Reo Maori, in order to secure additional funding for the polytech.

"These students, who were originally enrolled in a Maori spiritual healing course, were told that it was up to them whether they completed the Te Reo course. They didn't receive the course materials they were promised," says Mr English

"A student says they were asked to enrol twice - once during each weekend of the healing course.

"But this was nothing more than a financial transaction. The polytech would have received hundreds of dollars for each enrolment.

"The students estimate that the healing course may have produced up to 60 enrolments in the Te Reo course. It's quite possible that none of these students even started Te Reo.

"Last year, Steve Maharey said he would ensure that 'student enrolments are concentrated in areas of high performance and high strategic relevance'. Now we have polytechs enrolling students in bogus courses for funding purposes - potentially committing fraud."

Tairawhiti received $21.6 million in community education funding last year for the education of over 47,000 students - most of whom were enrolled in 'language and literature' courses. "These revelations raise some very serious questions about the loose nature of community education funding requirements under this Government," says Mr English.

ENDS

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