The ODT reports most Otago schools will abandon adult learning next year when changes to government priorities withdraw funding from hobby classes.
“You could still run courses, but the adults would have to pay all of the fees. They won’t be subsidised any more.”
Mr Craigie said adult students paid about $50 a term for ACE courses.
However, without the Government’s funding, they would be expected to pay more than $100 a term for each course.
Over a four-term year, it could cost students between $400 and $500, making it too expensive for many adults.
Let’s get add a little more to this discussion.
There is a high attrition rate in night classes. In each of the four years I’ve taught Spanish people rarely come to every class and several drop out altogether. That isn’t a reflection on my teaching, other teachers report a similar falling off in numbers, particularly over winter.
On average we had about 15 people on the first night. When we went for one term four or five dropped out and when we went for two terms the last couple of classes had only seven or eight students. Missing the odd class is inevitable, because people have other things to do, some knew when they started they wouldn’t finish the course because they were off on the holidays which prompted them to learn Spanish in the first place, some had other more important things come up and some found learning Spanish wasn’t for them.
Would it have made any difference if they had been paying more for the classes? I’m not sure. However, I am quite sure it is not good use of taxpayers’ money to subsidise classes for people who don’t turn up.
Another point to consider is that a lot of courses don’t run for the full year. Most continue for only one or two terms which would drop the cost to students to quarter or half the $400 to $500 cited.
That’s still a lot of money for some people, but regardless of how long the courses run, it’s only about $10 a class.
What else will $10 buy you? You’d pay more to go to a film.
But the more important question is, what is the best use of taxpayers’ moeny?
Keep in mind, we are facing a decade of deficits. You don’t just have to consider what else the money could go on now, you have to remember that it is borrowed money which will have to be repaid, cutting in to what is available for future spending.
Given that, what would you rather spend the money on, classes to improve literacy and numeracy for people who really need it, or on hobby classes for people who may or may not turn up to them?