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Long-awaited operational funding fails to impress

Long-awaited operational funding fails to impress

Dr Pita Sharples, Co-leader of the Maori Party

Wednesday 21 May 2008

“In a time in which 185,000 New Zealand children are living in severe or significant hardship, a five percent increase in operational funding for schools isn’t the boost in investment that we were hoping for” said Maori Party Co-leader, Dr Pita Sharples.

“No wonder the funds trickled out the day before Budget Day” said Dr Sharples. “It’s hardly the big ticket item to get excited about”.

“The evidence is that equity funding spread to low decile schools is simply not enough to compensate for the poverty related issues that low decile school communities face” said Dr Sharples.

A 2006 Ministry study on operations funding found it had not kept pace with costs in information technology, the cost of implementing curriculum changes and higher compliance costs.

“While we welcome the increase, the relatively low levels of parent and community contributions for low-decile schools - along with the sheer needs of the students within them – requires a significant boost to advance their educational prospects”.

“Thinking just in the ICT area, there’s still some way to go to meet current needs. This is particularly so when we look at access to internet at home for Maori (45.5%) and Pasifika students (39.5%) compared to other economic families, 79.6% of whom have internet access”.

“What we know is that in low decile communities, in which many Maori and Pasifika communities are located, access to the internet and internet services is poor and correlates with other disparities” said Dr Sharples.

“So all schools are turning more and more to locally-raised funds, to scramble together the resources they need from fund-raising, donations, and fee paying overseas students simply to pay for basics such as non-teaching staff” said Dr Sharples.

“The vital role that support staff play in our schools has been ignored in this Budget. These people are already vulnerable, frequently low paid yet highly valued by teachers, by management and by the children they support. It’s a huge disappointment that Government hasn’t come through for them”.

“We know that if schools are not adequately funded, the pressure on teaching and learning increases, schools find it difficult to resource the curriculum and to meet ICT requirements, and the trend has been that more and more schools are falling into financial deficit”.

“Who knows, maybe tomorrow will surprise us, and the Government will wake up to the vital importance that education plays in the future of this nation” said Dr Sharples. “Maybe the real announcement on Vote:Education will come out then!”


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