Petition Refuting ACE Cuts Delivered to Parliament
Click to enlarge Protesters look on as the petition is delivered to Parliament.
Half a dozen bright yellow boxes were delivered to the Parliament steps this afternoon, each containing parts of a petition from the public opposing the proposed cuts to Adult Community Education (ACE). The cuts threaten to discontinue adult education classes throughout the country. The petition garnered 53,334 signatures from individuals around the nation.
Maryke Fordyce, President of the Community Education Learning Association through School (CLASS) presented the boxes to Green Party Member of Parliament Catherine Delahunty and Labour Party leader Phil Goff.
Click to enlarge Maryke Fordyce, President of CLASS
"There are numerous examples of the transformative effect of night classes," said Fordyce, addressing the crowd gathered at the Parliament forecourt. "ACE encourages participation for learners who would not otherwise (pursue further education)...the National Party ignores the fact that the communities without these classes will suffer."
The cuts to ACE programs, which include hobby courses as well as cooking, ESL, first aid, driving and parenting courses, have been attributed to the recession.
"Adult education in New Zealand has survived one hundred years, two world wars and a global depression." Fordyce stated. "We will educate this government that social needs are just as important as economic ones."
"In a recession you invest in education, invest in people," argued Green Party member Catherine Delahunty. "These cuts damage those who want to upskill, they damage the lifelong learning of an entire nation."
Click to enlarge Green Party MP Catherine Delahunty
Approximately 220,000 New Zealanders participate in outside education courses each year. The petition delivered to Parliament this afternoon is the largest to be presented this term.
"We will fight," asserted Labour Party Member Phil Goff. "We won't give up. Lifelong education is fundamentally important to New Zealanders."
Wellington citizen Dave Madle can personally attest to the benefits of night courses, having participated in numerous classes over the last ten years.
"Evening classes fill a big gap," he says, "They introduce people to new things" and provide "inspiration" to those who are out of the more traditional sphere of mainstream education.
Madle has attended ensemble music courses, foreign language, and cooking classes among others. He says that many people rely on the opportunity of a night course not just for the intellectual stimulation, but for the social interaction, both, he believes are vitally important to an individual and their community. "What sounds like a trivial thing expands people's horizons. It's not to be underestimated."
For more information about ACE please see the following website: http://www.aceaotearoa.org.nz/
For more information about CLASS please see the following website: http://classaroundnz.wordpress.com/