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English calls for Aoraki investigation

Hon Bill English - National Education Spokesman

6 October 2004

English calls for Aoraki investigation

Steve Maharey should investigate further claims of the TEC funding of dubious community education 'courses' in South Canterbury, says National's Education spokesman, Bill English.

"Many of them aren't courses at all. They are support groups, seminars or ventures that operate completely separately from polytechs in other centres."

The Aoraki Polytechic website shows they offer courses through local community groups like the ADHD support group, the Alzheimer's support group and the breastfeeding interest group.

"I have been advised that one grandmother attending local Genealogical Society meetings was asked to fill out enrolment forms at each meeting. She was told that if she filled the form out correctly the polytech would make a donation to the group."

Answers to written questions show that in 2002, Aoraki Polytech received community education funding for more than 100 courses under the description 'Mid Canterbury Genealogy Society'.

Mr English says the Minister of Tertiary Education should investigate to see if the parents and caregivers who attend these regular meetings have not been unwittingly enrolled in Aoraki Polytech courses, and whether the polytech is claiming public funds for these meetings.

"I am particularly interested in the role Aoraki plays in this year's National Conference of the New Zealand Council of Homeopathy, of which it is a platinum sponsor. I wonder if conference attendees will be enrolled as Aoraki students."

The council is another entity linked as a partner in education on the polytech's website.

"The Minister is clearly aware that something dodgy is going on at Aoraki - he has been unable to answer 22 questions this year relating to community education at the polytech," says Mr English

Mr English says he looks forward to receiving those answers and finding out what the Minister is going to do about the community education mess that's gone on all year.


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