If they want it why don’t they pay themselves?

Criticism of government plans to stop funding hobby classes for adults continues.

Community Learning Association through Schools (Class) president Maryke Fordyce said Government had under-estimated the level of outrage at cuts to Adult Community Education.

“Initial surveys conducted by schools with learners show that adults will not enrol in night classes if course fees are increased.”

She said over 200,000 adults participating in night classes would be affected by the cuts and that the self-funding option was not viable.

“A distinctive feature of night classes is its affordability and accessibility for learners,” Mrs Fordyce said.

But why aren’t the students willing to fund them themselves?

Students in the Spanish classes I taught paid only $6.50 a lesson for 10 two-hour lessons. Had they continued for another 10 it would have cost them only another 50 cents a lesson because their fees paid the upfront costs, the biggest of which was advertising, and the taxpayer paid me.

I don’t think anyone in the class would have called $3.25 an hour expensive and given most were employed, and many were professionals, they could probably have afforded to pay a lot more.

Of course they’re not going to say that if asked because they’ll hope that if they cause enough fuss the government will back down.

But if they’re not willing to pay more directly why are they willing to pay more indirectly through the taxes which now pay the bulk of the costs?

And if they think hobby classes for adults are a priority for taxpayer funding, what other area of publicly funded education would they sacrifice instead?

Community classes do have value but they aren’t nearly as important as improving literacy and numeracy.

4 Responses to If they want it why don’t they pay themselves?

  1. Tussock says:


    would be ok if they practised what they preached!

  2. Neil says:

    Homepaddock I applaud the efforts to improve literacy and numeracy. They are the keys to societal development.
    However I think we have heard all that before with George Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” and efforts by successive NZ governments to lift academic standards .
    There is no doubt that general standards have declined especially in a growing class of under educated pupils from underperforming families.
    South Auckland is a case where we have large numbers of students who have little or no history of literacy in the Pacific Islands.
    This is a call from a new government which is natural. They want to break this failure cycle.I think in three years time Mrs Tolley won’t want this fact discussed.
    A problem is that no one wants to really put their finger on why there is extensive failure in schools, fearing being charged a racist or an elitist.
    Homes today in many cases are not places where reading is a priority . Rather the TV,Internet,video games,texting(in pidgin English) and activities involving less intellectual matters than reading.
    When I see some people claiming councils shouldn’t be in libraries because it isn’t core business I cringe.Maybe we should put Mickey Mouse comics in there !
    A last comment – just think of the adult education classes in rural or in country towns that have brought skills to people who generally would have to forgo them because of location.
    Yes there are people who are living day to day on the smell of an oily rag.

  3. Tussock says:


    The private schools have their $35m, though.

    National Party education policy has looked bad ever since the Budget. Infuriating many while gratifying few is not good politics.

    Also, the Minister seems easily rattled, while trying to defend some of the consequences. Slogans and prejudice are not a good basis for change.

  4. Why not separate Community Education into two streams? The middle classes can pay a more economic rate for Spanish and pottery – it doesn’t need to be profit-making just cost effective. Meanwhile those people wanting to catch up on basic skills could still get a subsidy.

    Raising literacy and basic skill levels is an investment for the whole of society. Learning how to read a menu on a European holiday is a luxury.

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