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Labour ignored early warnings about scholarship

Labour ignored early warnings about scholarship

National’s Education spokesman, Bill English, says Labour chose to ignore repeated early warnings from leading educators about NCEA scholarship exams.

Mr English has obtained copies of letters from the NZEST (New Zealand Education and Scholarship Trust) to Ministry of Education officials expressing grave concern about NCEA scholarship exams, and withdrawing from the group preparing last year’s exams.

NZEST successfully administered scholarship exams for 12 years before stepping aside; in doing so it said the NCEA scholarship ‘departs entirely from the competitive scholarship culture’.

“When leading educators, with years of experience with scholarship, told Labour they were on the wrong track, they should have taken notice. Now thousands of students are paying the price for their arrogance,” says Mr English.

“Those reviewing the 2004 scholarship results were given just two weeks and four meetings to fix problems Labour couldn’t resolve in two years.

“When the scholarship debacle erupted, David Benson-Pope gave the impression he would have it cleared-up within two weeks, but I have received correspondence from the him showing he will not make any recommendations to Cabinet until the end of March.

“This means teachers and students will be quarter of the way through the year before they know whether there will be a scholarship exam and, if there is, what it will be like.

“Labour’s track record of ignoring advice, stalling, and covering-up important details could easily lead to another debacle in 2005,” says Mr English.

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