National: education for the rich
The National Government has fostered a two-class society and a new study has shown that cost is undeniably a barrier to educational opportunities for young people from lower socio-economic backgrounds, Labour tertiary education spokesperson Steve Maharey said today.
"The University of Auckland study which shows tertiary education is slipping out of the grasp of children from low-income families is an indictment on the Government.
"Despite the denials of National's five education ministers, there is undeniably a link between the economic status of a community, and the likelihood that children from the local schools will go on to higher learning.
"Over the studied period of 1994-1997, the number of students from poor schools going to university dropped by 23 percent, while the number from wealthy schools rose by 25 percent.
"University education is becoming the reserve of the well-off. This is not equitable or fair. It also means New Zealand is not developing fully the talents that we will need in the future.
"The National Government has created poverty through policies like cutting benefits and market rents for state housing. The consequences include declining health standards and diminishing educational opportunities.
"Labour believes that every child in New Zealand should have access to schooling which enables them to reach their full potential in life - no matter where they live, how wealthy their parents are, or what special needs they have.
"As a result, Labour is proposing is a range of measures to strengthen schools' ability and resourcing to enhance the learning of all their children.
"In contrast to National, Labour is committed to lowering the cost of tertiary education, which should be open to all regardless of background or bank balance. This is shown by our commitment to abolish interest payments on student loans while the student is still studying.
"Education has the power to transform societies and individuals. It is crucial to close the gaps that National's market philosophy have created," Steve Maharey said.