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Education should not be a government cash cow

2nd February 2012
For Immediate Release

Education should not be a government cash cow

The education sector union NZEI Te Riu Roa says education should not be used as a cash cow and the government would be mad to accept Treasury’s latest advice.

In its briefing to the incoming government Treasury has suggested radical reform to free up money, including increasing class sizes and student-teacher ratios and closing down schools.

“This type of reform would be a huge step backwards for our education system and I don’t think schools, parents or communities would be willing to accept it. It is ill-advised advice,” says NZEI President Ian Leckie.

“Parents and schools fought long and hard to lower class sizes and student ratios in recent years particularly in the junior classes, and they would not want to see all that good work undone.”

“It’s disappointing to hear the Finance Minister say class size doesn’t matter when parents and teachers, who see what happens in classrooms everyday, know that children get more out of teaching and learning when they are in smaller groups and can get more one-on-one attention”.

“Having bigger classes would also do nothing to improve teacher quality,” he says.

Closing down schools would hit communities hard, particularly if there was no educational benefit in doing so.

“Closing a school down impacts heavily on students and families and shouldn’t affect a child’s right to attend their local school. Treasury’s proposal is purely a money-making scheme for a wholesale sell-off of valuable school property and land which would come at the expense of local communities,” Mr Leckie says.

“Surely education should not be a cash-cow for the government. If Treasury really wanted to free up money in education and improve teacher quality it would reinstate the teacher professional development that the government has taken away and stop wasting tens of millions of dollars on National Standards”.

NZEI says worryingly the Ministry of Education’s briefing to the new Minister also signals school closures as well as the erosion of school board control over property.

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