What does $10 buy?

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?

5 Responses to What does $10 buy?

  1. Inventory2 says:

    Mrs Inv and I did 18 months of Te Reo Maori at the local branch of the Wananga a couple of years ago. We had to pull the pin halfway through the second year due to other commitments, but the Wananga fought tooth and nail for us to remain enrolled, even, they said “if you don’t turn up”. Why? The “Bums on Seats” funding formula of course. We unenrol – they would lose funding.

    We unenrolled 🙂


  2. Neil says:

    Still think it is a poor move by the government especially in smaller rural areas.
    One has to take off their political reading glasses at times and admit the government has got it wrong.
    Learning is life long and this type of education can often open up new prospects.Rural high schools have opened up many courses with interests to the rural community who are the back bone of the national economy !! .Mrs Tolley’s excuses are not convincing !


  3. homepaddock says:

    I2 – I got paid per class, not per pupil, so the cost to the state didn’t decline when class numbers fell – fine for me but not so good for the taxpayer.

    Neil – I agree with you about life long learning, but isn’t it better for participants to pay for their own hobby classes than to increase public debt?


  4. Inventory2 says:

    I disagree Neil. We’ve become far too used to the government picking up the tab for everything. We would have been quite happy to pay to learn Te Reo, because it was something we both wanted to do. That the course was free was a bonus.


  5. Neil says:

    Homepaddock and Inventory2 make valid points.
    However I believe the solid work done in computer training in the last ten years has been a real positive for life long learning.
    Todays world is literally an on line world.
    At the beginning of 1999 I was totally computer illiterate.(Maybe some of my critics would say I am still illiterate!!)
    Ten years later I can use emails and find something on the web. All this via courses from the local polytech and high school.
    As well, I have run community courses for investing in the money markets. I still believe that someone needs to provide those type of courses in this day and age.
    Calls for children to learn that at school are quite naive.Teachers generally haven’t the ability to explain money and savings while children aren’t really mature enough to appreciate the complexities of real investing.NCEA Economics only gives theory not practical real life practices.
    Only when you have your own money,mortgage,savings have you the real maturity to invest. When better than when you are a little older and mature.
    I do think the government should be providing for some lifelong education.I agree that governments should not provide fees for things like French pastry cooking or the French can can. The skills of a nation should be open to all- town,country,young,old,male female,rich,poor.


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