Whether you’re an individual or a government, when your expenditure exceeds your income you’ve got to set priorities.
Education Minister Anne Tolley made it clear on Q&A this morning that her priority for the education budget is younger people.
Well 124 million dollars will still be spent in adult and community education. What I’ve said is we’re going to focus on literacy, numeracy, language, foundation skills – those courses that will lead on to employment. We’re still in an economic recession, there are people out there, particularly young people, who are the most vulnerable, they are the most likely to lose their jobs and the least ones likely to get jobs.
PAUL Yes, but night classes in schools of course as adults – migrants, refugees adults trying to improve their lot – the strugglers.
ANNE Some of them are, some of them are hobby courses courses like belly dancing, ukulele playing. We’ve got courses like pilates and yoga – I’ve attended those classes myself. The average age of people attending those night classes is about 46. What we’re saying I had a half billion debt from the previous government to find in tertiary education what we’re saying is we’re going to put those tax dollars into supporting our young people through the recession.
Tolley said that English language classes will remain and, pointed out what seems to escape many of the critics, that schools will still be able to offer other classes on a user pays basis.
She also countered the criticism about taking money from Adult Community Education while funding private schools.
Economically, private schools save the State system money. I’m looking at a small private school at the moment that’s probably going to close – wants to integrate – currently costs the State around $65,000 a year. If it integrates and comes into the State network it’s going to cost $380,000 a year which is an enormous difference.
That argument might not sway people who are ideologically opposed to private education and think they should be self-supporting. But if it costs the state less to keep them going than to bring them, or their pupils, into the state system it makes sense to take the least expensive option.