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July 31, 2017 | by  | in News Splash |
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Labour Announce Education Policy

The Labour Party has confirmed three years of free tertiary education for all New Zealanders if elected to government, following the announcement of their education policy on July 21.

The policy, which targets all levels of education, will inject $4 billion into the sector over four years.

Early childhood education will receive increased funding and more qualified teachers. At the school level, the National Party’s controversial National Standards, which evaluate the performance of primary school students against their peers, are to be abolished.

NCEA is also to be re-evaluated, with Hipkins stating at the policy’s announcement that NCEA was not being used “as it was envisaged when [it] was introduced.”

“What was intended was an ‘exit-level’ qualification,” Hipkins told reporters. “So kids might do Level One or Level Two or Level Three. Now most kids are doing all three levels, and they’re doing a mix of internal and external assessment, which means that they’re basically spending most of their time either being assessed or preparing for assessments.”

“It’s just too much.”

Additionally, Labour intends to discourage school fees that masquerade as “donations” by giving $150 per student per year to schools that don’t ask parents for donations.

Despite the large cost, affordability at the individual level is the policy’s key theme. “Our ultimate goal is to get back to the principle of free education,” Labour’s education spokesperson Chris Hipkins told Salient.

However, the policy has been criticised by Finance Minister Steven Joyce as being an example of Labour “spending more and getting less.”

He also pointed out that it “is almost in every sense identical to their 2014” policy.

Labour’s intention is to streamline tertiary education to suit New Zealand’s small size and Labour Leader Andrew Little stated we need “tertiary institutions that drive excellence in teaching and research.”

Labour has pledged to review the Tertiary Education Commission, which serves to link government with universities, describing it as currently no more than a “bureaucratic box-ticking exercise.”  

Hipkins described the Tertiary Education Commission as focusing on quantity of education and not quality. Despite being established by the Labour Government as a “strategic decision maker,” Hipkins said that “the truth is that it’s still very much a bums-on-seats model” that develops unnecessary competition.

The policy as a whole was described by Little as Labour “reaffirming” their commitment to a “world-class free education system that’s accessible to everyone.”

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