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Harawira: Debate on Crown entities - Tertiary Ed. Commission

Debate on Crown entities, public organisations, and State Enterprises


Hone Harawira, MANA Leader and MP for Te Tai Tokerau

Tuesday 17 June 2014

The Education and Science Committee's report on the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) made an important point about how TEC is having to cope with ongoing cuts to tertiary sector funding, rather than manage a stronger budget for the sector.

And the sector is crying out for support at a time when we have record numbers of young people leaving for Australia, record numbers of unemployed young people, and a refusal by government to properly fund tertiary education for those still living here in Aotearoa.

And that’s why it’s important that in considering this report on the TEC, we also consider the research that tells us how the lack of access to tertiary education, defines the future for many of our young people.

Research that tells us that high fees stop many from thinking they can aspire to a tertiary education; from even bothering to enrol; from signing on for longer more costly degree length courses; even though they know that that is the pathway to better employment opportunities.

Research that tells us that many, crippled by student debt, leave as soon as they graduate to escape a life of indebtedness, or drop out early because of the heavy financial commitments of tertiary study.

And sadly, research that tells us what most of us already know but many refuse to acknowledge, that these problems are ever more complex and far more damaging, for Maori, for Pasifika, and for those who grow up in communities where poverty is the norm.

And that’s why MANA says, that if we want NZ to become a genuine player in world affairs, then instead of trying to bribe our away onto the UN Security Council, and instead of throwing even more money at Team New Zealand after already blowing $90 million on two failed campaigns to date, and instead of constantly cutting funds to what was once a leading international tertiary sector, perhaps we should be overhauling our whole education system and rebuilding it based on a full commitment toFREE EDUCATION that shows our young people that we want them to grow here, we want them to learn here, we want them to live here, we want them to work here, we want them to invest here, and that we are happy to invest in them, because we know that an investment in them is an investment in us all.

Because we know that education is a public right, something that should be paid for from the public purse; that Aotearoa is a better nation with an educated population; that student debt is a huge deterrent to people taking up tertiary study, and a massive burden in a low wage economy like ours; that we need to be tapping into the nation’s intelligence, to become innovators rather than mere consumers for the world’s multinationals; and that without a culture of free education, we shall become the zombies of the world, the dull and dim-witted slaves to a rich and powerful and ever-more greedy elite.

And that’s why we need to increase access to our tertiary institutions, to convince parents that their children can get in to those places, and to get our young people to believe that tertiary education really is available to everyone, regardless of the colour of their wallets!

And that’s why one of MANA’s very first policies, isFREE EDUCATION, a position also promoted by our partners in the Internet Party, and a position based on our absolute belief that our young people are worth every cent of our investment.

And that’s why we say -drop the decision to shut down student associations and let them continue to be voices for change, campaigners for student rights, and advocates for free thinking;dump the plan to remove student, staff and community members from tertiary governance bodies and let them continue to be the voices of their communities;write off student debt as the first step in our investment in our own future;provide a proper living student allowance for all tertiary students;scrap tertiary fees; and challenge ourselves to create a world that we want for all of our young people, not just those who can afford it

And yes we know that this approach will cost us, but in the final analysis MANA still says yes,absolutely yes, because we believe, absolutely believe, that our young people will be worth every single cent.


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