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Education gap between rhetoric and reality widens

Nick Smith National Education Spokesman

Education gap between rhetoric and reality widens

The reality of the education budget does not match up to the Government's rhetoric, says National Education Spokesman Nick Smith.

"There is very little in this budget for schools beyond inflation adjustments. The overall increase in operations funding, when the abolition of bulk funding is included, amounts to only $15 million.

"The increase in early childhood education funding of $10 million amounts to only 1.8%, and is mere crumbs.

"The literacy initiative of resource teachers amounts to only one teacher for every 23 schools. The homework centre funding of $2 million amounts to 6 cents per week per pupil.

"Nor is there anything new in the property announcement - it simply restates National's commitment last year to spend $1 billion on improving school property over three years.

"Even the funding for Maori education is very modest at just $12.5 million, or $1.60 per week per Maori child. The Government is just kidding itself if it thinks these initiatives will close the gaps.

"The education spending increase of $300 million by the Labour-Alliance Government compares poorly to the $380 million increase by the National-NZ First Coalition in its first budget.

"What is not in this budget is more significant than what is there. There is no new funding for the huge information technology challenge facing schools. There is no funding for social workers in schools. There is no funding for professional development for teachers. There is no funding for the Commissioner for Children or the promised Parents Advocacy Service.

"Funding increases in tertiary education also fall far short of the expectations created by Steve Maharey. Tertiary students were looking forward to a significant drop in fees. In fact, the $30.5 million that provides a 2.3% funding increase per student will be barely enough to keep fees at the current level," Dr Smith said.

Ends

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