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Education Minister Can't Cope

Education Minister Can't Cope

Recent events show that Trevor Mallard is suffering from a crisis of mismanagement in education, ACT's education spokesman Deborah Coddington said today.

"Mr Mallard has constantly claimed the main reason for closing schools has been predicted falls in roll sizes. But his figures are wrong and he now admits that.

"He also cites spare classrooms. The truth is there are few spare classrooms, just a Ministry following his orders to classify gyms, halls and resource rooms as 'extra teaching spaces'.

"He says school closures will save money. Answers to my parliamentary questions, quoted in today's Sunday Star Times, show Wainuiomata alone cost $19 million and that won't be recovered for 13 years.

"I have also discovered Timaru's review will cost $35 million. There are 11 reviews being undertaken at present so we can conservatively guess this will cost taxpayers a further $300 million," Miss Coddington said.

"Adding to the Minister's crisis is revelations that the head of the Teachers Council, Margaret Kouvelis, has 'resigned'. After three years of planning, this Crown Entity has done nothing for education, instead spending its time squabbling about union-related issues. Kouvelis didn't jump; she was pushed - in secret. This is a public entity and taxpayers are entitled to know what's going on.

"All over New Zealand schools are struggling while this Minister swans around overseas. Children as young as six are being stood down for physically assaulting teachers, yet the Minister can't answer my questions regarding the details of these offences.

"The Ministry of Education, under Trevor Mallard's direction, is more concerned with spending money on buildings than teaching children to read, write and add up. More than $6 million is spent annually on maintaining empty schools the Minister has closed; and hundreds of thousands is spent on security surveillance of abandoned schools because the Office of Treaty Settlements must have first refusal.

"At a time when 20 percent of school children leave secondary school unable to read a bus timetable we should be focusing all our resources on parents, teachers and students to make sure all children grow up able to lead independent, happy lives.

"The ACT Party believes the future of our children is far more important than closing and merging our greatest schools," Miss Coddington said. "If we want no child left behind, we have to save our schools."

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