Labour prioritises luxury education

I used to teach Spanish night classes, with the very necessary help of a Uruguayan friend.

We had fun, so did the pupils but even the best learned little more than the absolute basics.

The classes ended when funding was cut and I couldn’t argue against that.

There might have been some social benefit to the ACE – Adult and Continuing Education – classes, but using scarce taxpayers’ dollars for what was a luxury wasn’t sensible.

Labour railed against the cuts and is now promising to reinstate funding.

There is a case for public funding of numeracy and literacy classes and ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages).

But reinstating funding for hobby classes is wasting money on luxury education – mostly for upper and middle income people – when it would be far better used for those requiring necessities.

The PWC study which Labour uses to justify this spending has been discredited.

And Matthew Beveridge spotted that  Labour also scored another SMOG (Social Media Own Goal) with its announcement:

. . . Now you will notice that the graphic claims that they will increase funding to community education  TO $13million. Now there are two issues with that claim. Firstly, the funding for ACE this year is already $71million. (ref page 173) . . .

So as you can see, non literacy and numeracy programs already get $22.89mil allocated for them in the coming financial year. So Labour’s graphic is claiming to increase ACE funding to a level that is around 45% lower than the current appropriation.

The bigger issue is that their graphic doesn’t agree with their policy documents. . .

So Labour are promising in their policy documents to restore the nominal value of funding, with no inflation adjustment. This is a HUGE difference from what their graphic says. Their graphic implies a total funding of $13million next year, but their policy documents indicate a funding of around $36million. That means the funding difference between “graphic policy” and actual policy is around $23million.


How did no one in the whole Labour leaders office pick up this issue? I am not sure what would be worse, over selling a policy, or underselling it. One makes you look like you lied, the other makes you look inept. Neither of which is going to help an opposition party win.

Once more, Labour shows it’s the one in need of education on how to develop policy and deliver its announcement without contradiction and confusion.


5 Responses to Labour prioritises luxury education

  1. Dave Kennedy says:

    This so called luxury education also provided the following:

    -Allowed a pathway into further education for those who have not been accessing it for some time and will lead to gaining confidence, further education and future employment.
    -Provide rehabilitation and a focus for those returning to community involvement or employment after an accident or traumatic event.
    -Provide a worthwhile focus and involvement for those who are retired or unemployed that will keep them mentally healthy and connected.
    -Strengthen communities by sharing skills and bring diverse people together.
    -Make good use of local schools and facilities
    -Strengthen the arts and culture of local communities and enrich our quality of life.
    -Provide useful incomes for many tutors and enable them to share their skills within their communities.
    -Provides opportunities for new migrants to become better assimilated into our communities.
    -Supports the concept of ‘life long learners’ which creates a healthy vibrant population that is more resilient to change.

    I always get frustrated when people treat education such as this as an unnecessary cost, it is actually a hugely cost effective investment.


  2. TraceyS says:

    A better idea would be to incentivise, via the benefit system, skilled people who are not working and are receiving benefits (eg. unemployed, retired) to use their skills in the community, for example:

    “Nirmala Ritchie (45) stands in her living room holding a jar of chutney that contains some of the pear.

    Six people live in the homely, three-bedroom North Dunedin bungalow – Mrs Ritchie and her husband David, neither of whom have work, and their four children aged 11, 9, 7 and 4.

    They occasionally receive a food parcel from the PSO food bank. But because one of the children has significant food allergies Mrs Ritchie has found it is sometimes more practical to ask Work & Income for a food grant to buy the food best suited to the family’s needs.

    ”You sometimes get hard-up … sometimes because bills are due,” Mrs Ritchie says.

    ”Everyone does. But I’m not shy to talk about it.”

    When she was growing up in Fiji, her father kept a large vegetable garden and there was lots of fruit growing wild. The children helped with all aspects of gardening.

    Here in Dunedin she puts those skills to use, growing what resources and the climate allows. This year there have been garlic, mint, tomatoes, lettuce, parsley and broad beans.

    Mrs Ritchie has also taught Fijian Indian cooking to a coffee group at the local school.”

    The last sentence is the important one. Plus she does it for no extrinsic reward (in fact it probably costs her for the ingredients). But if there was a financial incentive which helped with the family’s needs she might do more of it. And that would be wonderful.

    Better off people can set up their own training programmes, hire a room at the local school or community hall, and charge fees to those who can afford to pay. Why on earth would the government need to get involved in that?


  3. Dave Kennedy says:

    If what you claim is the case than all the classes that used to exist would have continued and we would have the same approach to all education. When we are attempting to lift all sectors of society the commercial model clearly fails.


  4. TraceyS says:

    No, not necessarily. Things are rarely so black-and-white, Dave. Fees are easy to put down but difficult to raise. That’s a simple commercial reality.

    In using taxpayer funds to “lift” society, what I am saying is that you need to lift the provider as well as the receiver. Some providers don’t need a lift and therefore should not receive any taxpayer funds.

    We have that philosophy in operation already through the school decile system where higher funding to the provider is needed to lift provision of services to lower-socioeconomic peoples.


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