Keeping the weak ill-educated, isolated and unskilled

Adult Community Education serves two key purposes: reducing poverty and building strong skilled adults active within their communities. The National government is drastically cutting it, consigning people to lives trapped in poverty and weakening communities. 

The cuts are both deep and vicious, school ACE funding is being cut by 80% from 2010, tertiary ACE funding from 2011, and inflation indexing goes from both, and the funding to help providers develop community education vanished overnight.

National has been banging on about “moroccan cooking courses” and describing them as “hobby courses”, but the reality is very different. Firstly a quick look at any ACE provider will show a very different picture of courses from the one Anne Tolley would like to paint. My local school provider, for instance, is teaching first aid, assertiveness, anger management, effective communication, and how to teach adults – all valuable, all losing funding in 2010.

Secondly, hands on life skills courses are an effective bridge back into education. Within my extended family and network of friends I can think of several people who’ve taken a first easy step back into education through a “hobby” course, found that they could succeed in education and taken another course, and blossomed from there. A concrete example: bike maintenance -> communication skills -> effective writing -> interview preparation -> a brand new job and career. By removing the bridging courses National are consigning a whole raft of people to on-going poverty and no access to education.

Thirdly, we suffer from relatively weak communities in New Zealand: individuals are isolated, people want to help others but don’t know how, community organisations are underfunded, under resourced and lack structural skills. Community Education has been one of the more effective mechanisms for addressing this, not only do they build relationships and create community facilities and meeting places, but they also teach the skills that effective community organisations need.

Anne Tolley, by butchering the Community Education sector, has acted both to keep the weak ill-educated, isolated and unskilled, and to undermine the community organisations that try to help them.

9 thoughts on “Keeping the weak ill-educated, isolated and unskilled

  1. This is indeed scary; I provide courses for the University of Auckland’s Centre for Continuing Education (their adult education group). One of my courses is a straight Critical Thinking course, the other a Critical Thinking course by way of a series of case studies, and given that I know CCE is already low on funding due to cuts Labour made in the last term, this makes their position all the more perilous.

  2. National applied sinking lid spending restraint on tertiary education itself back in the 70’s, it cut back on skills training in the 90’s, so I suppose it was time for a new victim at the community education level this time – their budgets for the tertiary sector and skills training show they same old cut costs to make more profits (run down the business) mentality. It’s the most primitive form of capitalism, so cynical as to be counter-productive.

  3. Ok – Just getting this sraight – your story is that ACE is a special case and should be funded. So in a world of scarce resources (bank balance is lean and the magical money tree is no longer granting wishes) where is your alternative proposal to fund this? – That is – what are you willing to go without to ensure ACE goes ahead, and why is that other activity any less special than ACE.

    I don’t mind that you think ACE is a good cause and for you to plead is case, but in your advocacy please try an add an extra dimension of how this is possible (aside from pleading to the magical money tree). Otherwise your point is all sizzle with no sausage.

  4. Do you mean why is the government borrowing a $B dollars every year to place $1000pa into Kiwi Saver accounts, when the alternative is to place the money in their own Fund or to invest in the economy (tertiary education/skills training, R and D tax incentives etc)?

  5. Anne Tolley, by butchering the Community Education sector, has acted both to keep the weak ill-educated, isolated and unskilled, and to undermine the community organisations that try to help them.

    Anita this IS the hidden agenda here, and I could not have put it better myself. It may be an accidental goal which is driven by ideological assumptions of the ACT Party in particular.

    There is a striking parallel with the Local Government Reforms of Rodney Hide. By reducing councils’ discretion to spend on community development, we again rob ourselves of enrichment.

    The outlook is to have New Zealanders become individual silos of limited vision and knowledge. Literate and Numerate yes, as proven with National Standards and testing. We have the means to an end but little to foster the end – which should be widely worldly citizens – strong on creativity and self reliance.

  6. “It may be an accidental goal which is driven by ideological assumptions of the ACT Party in particular.”

    So it has nothing to do with the projected multi-billion dollar deficits?

    FFS unless we wish to burden future generation with immense debt like they have in the US and UK should the govnt have to tighten its belt a little and forgo our Moroccan cooking classes.

    Disclosure: past student of ACE

  7. If we can’t afford to provide pathways for people into education, then we certainly can’t afford billions of dollars for new state highways. It is a matter of priorities.

  8. You are right Chris, it is a matter of priorities, something J should wake up to.

    $35 million to subsidise the wealthy into private education would be a start. Except the subsidy won’t be through reduced fees – they will continue to charge whatever the market can stand.

    No, I’d predict the $35 million will be visible through even more grandiose facilities – which in turn will enable these schools to raise their fees.

    Hey I think I just cracked a joke. He He !!

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