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Budget 2006: Strengthening New Zealand schools

Hon Steve Maharey
Minister of Education

Strengthening New Zealand schools

The Labour-led government will boost teacher numbers and put more resources into schools, with an investment of $361 million over the next four years, plus $20 million in the current financial year, says Education Minister Steve Maharey.

"Education is the basis for transforming New Zealand's economy and society," Steve Maharey said. "This Budget continues Labour's drive to ensure our school system remains among the best in the world, by continuing to invest in our schools and our teachers.

"Total funding for New Zealand schools is now more than $4 billion a year, up from less than $3 billion in 1998/99. The funding provides for more teachers, new classrooms and buildings, and an overall boost to operational funding.

"A priority will be putting an extra 455 teachers into primary and special schools to further reduce pupil teacher ratios. As a result of this many primary schools can expect to see noticeable staffing improvements. This builds on the extra 3040 teacher positions we've created since 1999. Schools' operational funding will increase by $95.6 million over four years to ensure it stays ahead of inflation.

"Another big increase will be school property funding, where capital funding will increase by $148.9 million, taking it to $527.8 million in 2006/07. The big investment we've made in property since 1999 means instead of filling up potholes and mending the roof, schools can now use funding to continue modernising their buildings and creating environments suitable for the 21st century. Schools will also have the funding they need for classrooms for additional teachers.

"We've come a long way from the early 1990s, when school funding didn't keep up with inflation in real terms. Labour-led governments have addressed this deficit since 1999, with a 31.7 percent funding increase in real terms. This means our schools are no longer playing catch-up and can focus on the areas that will continue lift standards across all of our schools.

"This investment stands in stark contrast to National's slash and burn approach, and is a reminder that only a Labour-led government can provide the investment needed to create a world-leading school system."

ENDS

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