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August 9, 2010 | by  | in Opinion |
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Education Action Group: Is education a privilege or a right?

If there’s a silver bullet to solve almost every social problem we face, it’s education. And if there’s a policy area more controversial than any other, it’s education. Whether the question is how it should be funded, what should be taught or how those who teach should be paid, the country is divided. The heat involved in these debates is telling of the importance we place on it, regardless of our political colours.

Maybe we argue about education so passionately because it is a fundamental right, fulfilling our human need to strive to reach our full potential. This isn’t something only the very wealthy or people of a certain race need; it applies to everyone and we all equally deserve to have our needs met. Education is a right, not a privilege.

This is recognised most in primary and secondary education. We may argue about National Standards and NCEA, but when it comes down to it, education at these levels is something all the parties in parliament realise they have a responsibility to give to everyone. There are undoubtedly big differences in policy, and the system will obviously be balanced differently under the Greens or Labour than it would be under National, and even more different under ACT’s school voucher policy. But whatever their affiliation, MPs realise that education is a right they must fund for everyone.

There’s a question mark over other sorts of education. I think this is a shame—the need to learn doesn’t appear at age five then disappear at 17 or 18. It’s lifelong. In my opinion, early childhood education (ECE) is essential for kids to get the best start to life, and fair access to tertiary education (whether it be polytech, university or adult and community education) is important for opportunities later in life. However, whether lifelong learning is a right is currently being questioned: funding for night classes has been pulled, and the latest cuts have been to ECE. The effects of cuts to tertiary funding have never been closer to home than when our own uni closed enrolments this year.

We have to ask ourselves whether the right to learn and further yourself is something for everyone regardless of the stage of life they’re at, or whether there are some places where budget cuts are justified. It’s an important issue that we should think about before the next election.

Education Action Group meeting, 5pm Wednesday 11th August, VUWSA meeting room, ground floor, Student Union Building.

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  1. Bridie says:

    SWOON Nicola!

  2. Nick C says:

    “If there’s a silver bullet to solve almost every social problem we face, it’s education”

    No it isnt:

    http://cheapseatsecon.wordpress.com/2010/02/26/the-curse-of-hyperbolic-discounting/

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