The Government has taken an axe to the education sector and scrapped a large number of valuable initiatives in Budget 2018, National’s Education Spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“First Labour scrapped partnership schools with no regard for where it leaves their students, who have previously struggled in mainstream education.
“This ideological decision may cost taxpayers up to $15 million in compensation payments, plus additional costs as the schools transition to special character or integrated schools.
“Then Labour scrapped the Aspire Scholarships, which changed the lives of many Māori and Pasifika students by giving them the opportunity to attend a private school.
“The Government says it wants to help lift achievement for disadvantaged students, but scrapping this scholarship and partnership schools demonstrates the exact opposite.
“And the axe hasn’t stopped there. As part of Budget 2018, $2 million was cut from the Prime Minister’s Scholarships for Asia, United World College Scholarships were cancelled, the $5.8 million careers education pilot was canned and funding was cut to the Kea Network which links international students and New Zealand-educated alumni around the world.
“The Government is happy to spend big money on diplomats abroad, but at the same time is cutting opportunities for aspiring Kiwi leaders with an interest in international relations.
“Communities of Learning have also taken a big hit. $47 million was slashed from the Investing in Educational Success programme, which takes away career opportunities and $10,000-$20,000 salary boosts from 2350-4700 teachers and principals.
“The Correspondence School is getting a $4 million cut, while ERO, which has an important role in holding schools to account, received a drop in funding of over 10 per cent.
“The Government had plenty of cash to spend, so there is no excuse for cutting so many beneficial initiatives on top of breaking almost all of its election promises.
“Chris Hipkins promised on the morning he was sworn in as Minister to end school donations in his first Budget. In February this year, he refused to release information on this policy on the grounds that it was ‘Budget sensitive’. But come Budget Day, this promise was nowhere to be seen.
“It’s becoming very difficult to trust the word of this Minister when he continues to say one thing and do another.
“This is about priorities, and sadly this Government doesn’t consider investing in the futures of Kiwi kids to be more important than spending money on diplomats.”