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Greens cautiously welcome new Education Strategy

14 December 2006

Greens cautiously welcome new Tertiary Education Strategy

The new Tertiary Education Strategy provides important guidance to an increasingly strained sector, but some aspects of the document raise real concerns, the Green Party says.

"I am pleased to see a slight shift away from a bums on seats funding model and a commitment to a three year funding cycle. That will help to provide better certainty to institutions, students and staff," Education Spokesperson Metiria Turei says.

"The move towards distinctive contributions brings with it both opportunities and risks. While on the one hand we don't want to see the duplication and proliferation of courses from which students aren't getting much benefit, it is important that access to courses that are valuable isn't unduly restricted due to the commercial focus of the Government's approach.

"Recognising the significance of polytechnics and wananga is also welcome. These institutions have suffered from some neglect, particularly in the area of research. They are uniquely placed to provide significant research in their specialist areas," Mrs Turei.

"But the strategy is too heavily focused on meeting the needs of business, developing commercial opportunities and achieving economic growth.

"We are very concerned that there is no priority goal which would enhance the strength of our civil society, democracy or foster environmental sustainability. Lip service is paid to the promotion of Matauranga Maori, outside of wananga. And even less to the contribution the tertiary sector plays in achieving the Prime Minister's goal of a carbon-neutral New Zealand.

"At a time when environmental concern is so high, the tertiary sector should be focused on education for sustainability. Every aspect of government policy must prioritise this.

"We need to have an education system which doesn't just meet the needs of our companies, but that also produces citizens who can make informed and creative decisions about what kind of businesses we want to encourage so that we have a long-term sustainable future. Putting the needs of business before the needs of our communities and environment would be a serious mistake," Mrs Turei says.


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