Home' The Wellingtonian : September 8th 2011 Contents 14 THE WELLINGTONIAN, SEPTEMBER 8, 2011
C F R /W k
25th September 2011
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The schoolyard battlegrounds
By JIM CHIPP
Night classes end: Maryke Fordyce,
left, hands a petition to Labour
leader Phil Goff and education
spokeswoman Marion Street calling
for adult community education cuts
to be reversed.
Photo: JIM CHIPP
The education portfolio has
generated the most aggravation
for John Key s National Govern-
ment in its first term.
Education Minister Anne Tol-
ley s plans for national standards
in literacy and numeracy for pri-
mary school pupils faced intense
criticism from educators, and have
not been universally accepted.
Ms Tolley slashed the budget
for adult community education,
and it has vanished from most of
The total education budget has
risen this year from $12 billion to
$12.16b, with the increase going
to the early childhood education
sector, but universities and
polytechnics face funding cuts.
The Government has got tough
with reluctant student loan
debtors overseas, employing debt
collectors to chase payments.
With half a million New Zealand-
ers owing a total of more than
$11b, the Government moved to
tighten eligibility and improve
Labour had removed the inter-
est from loans while students
were still studying, and before the
2008 election National undertook
to continue the policy.
However, Tertiary Education
Minister Steven Joyce said this
year that over-55-year-olds and
people who had overdue payments
would no longer be eligible.
Last month the Inland Revenue
Department began a trial employ-
ing private debt collectors to chase
payments from student loan
defaulters living in Australia.
Funding for tertiary institutions
has been tied to performance,
based on course completion rates,
qualification completion and
student progression to other
Polytech boards have been cut
to four local appointees and four
Night class wars
Ms Tolley sparked a furore when
she slashed funding for adult com-
munity education from $16
million a year to just $3 million.
She said the cut was necessary
because the Labour Government
had left polytechs and universities
with $500 million in unfunded
commitments to building
programmes, money which had to
be found somewhere.
It was a hard but necessary
decision, she said at time.
There were protests on the
street and a petition against the
cuts, all to no avail.
Ms Tolley left the last $3 million
to continue to provide English
tuition to refugees, sign language
and other essential classes, but
most schools were unable to stay
open for after-hours classes.
Adult community education has
vanished from most South Island
schools, as well as the Hutt Valley
and Porirua. It survives at
Wellington High School, and
Newlands and Tawa colleges.
English language cuts
Private English language schools
for migrants and refugees came
under pressure early in the
Government s term as the Ter-
tiary Education Commission
began to enforce previously
overlooked performance criteria.
A percentage of students from
each school were expected to
graduate into either tertiary edu-
cation or a job within six months,
or their school faced a funding cut.
Marty Pilott, who manages
English Teaching College in Wel-
lington, said the policy forced
schools to cherry-pick the students
likely to achieve the standard,
leaving those with the most need
for English tuition out in the cold.
The requirement to get 60 per
cent of students to employment or
further training within 26 weeks
had been dropped in favour of a
new one of 35 per cent into work,
and 35 per cent into further train-
ing, he said.
In other words, if you ve got 70
per cent into work, you ve failed to
meet the outcome.
We can t go into Pak n Save
and drag them kicking and
screaming into WelTec, he said.
His school had 52 training
students in 2009, but this year has
funding for only 37.
It has shed administrative staff,
including its employment broker,
leaving tutors to carry out that
role as best they can.
However, there had been recent
positive developments, he said.
The Government is to offer new
funding for 700 places for students
at the lowest level of English,
which ETC will apply for.
He also understood there was to
be a Department of Labour-led
English language programme for
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