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Government continues with Maori-bashing agenda

TE MANA ÂKONGA (INC.)
National Mâori Tertiary Students’ Association


Government continues with Maori-bashing agenda

The government’s announcement to stop the Maori-targeted Special Supplementary Grant (SSG) to tertiary institutions proves its commitment to a Maori-bashing agenda.

“The government is determined to prove they don’t support Maori development, while at the same time pumping huge amounts of money into trying to hold their Maori vote in this most crucial of election years”, said Dr. Helen Potter, Kaituhono of Te Mana Akonga. “It’s illogical”.

The announcement confirms almost a years speculation about the future of the SSG fund, set up in 2001 to increase Maori retention and completion rates in tertiary education. The review of the scheme, originally planned to take 3 months, took a group of analysts 6 months to complete.

“While the government is more than happy to spend a huge amount of public funds and tie up valuable staff resources, they refuse to continue funding positive initiatives lest it be termed Maori privilege. It’s an expensive and cowardly knee-jerk reaction”, said Dr. Potter.

“The changes are justified on the basis of targeting funding to include all those deemed to need it. What they amount to in practice, however, is removing the requirement for institutions to put money into Maori-specific initiatives – despite Maori retention and completion rates still being too low, particularly at universities”.

“In the main, if institutions aren’t forced to section-off money to transform their hostile learning environments into successful ones for Maori students, they won’t do it. Maori students are back to scrapping with institutions for every cent. How is this meant to help you pass your courses or motivate you to turn up for another year? It just gets too hard”.

Institutions enrolling Maori students into certificate or diploma courses will no longer be eligible to receive funding for these students, encouraging institutions to enrol Maori into degree courses.

“The government has failed to remember that many Maori start at the certificate level and ‘staircase’ further. They’ve also failed to remember that degree courses are much more expensive and that cost is a major disincentive to Maori enrolling in degree study. Forcing students into degree courses will not improve pass rates”.

“Once again, the government has been incredibly short-sighted, making blind policy decisions that will increase the very problems the SSG fund was designed to overcome”, concluded Dr. Potter.

ENDS

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