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Mallard distorts truth over school closures

Education Minister distorts truth over school closures

Education Minister Trevor Mallard is distorting the truth when he says closing an estimated 300 schools over the next 10 years will improve the quality of education, Green MP Metiria Turei said today.

"This is, in reality, all about saving money. It's a heartless cash grab," the Green Education Spokesperson said. "After four years, 50 per cent of the savings from closing schools will go back into the consolidated fund.

"By closing small schools, Mr Mallard is ignoring the better quality education that small classes provide. He is also turning his back on the closer school community these schools provide and which many children thrive in, and the pivotal role schools play in the wider community.

"Many rural areas will lose the main focal point of their community if their schools close. The move is contrary to the Government's regional development strategy of providing jobs in rural areas.

"The closures will cause increasing urbanisation, and depopulation of rural areas," Mrs Turei said.

"Many of the schools that will close under Mallard's plan will also be in low-income areas, with high proportions of Maori pupils. So this is an attack not only on low-income people, but also on Maori.

"Forcing children to travel further to school will also undermine health and safety initiatives like walking buses."

"The Minister should rethink his whole strategy and stop undermining the value of schools with small rolls," Mrs Turei said.

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