EDUCATION: KEY POINTS
• $761 million to build more schools, classrooms
• $25 a week boost in student allowances from April 2022
• Training Incentive Allowance fully reinstated for single parents, disabled people
• Tertiary funding: increase for vocational education to close the funding gap with universities.
Schools and early childhood centres will get only small increases to their day-to-day funding, but the Budget allocates a one-off package of $53 million for school property upgrades - and $634 million to build new schools and classrooms.
The education budget's $1.4 billion operating package delivers a small 1.2 per cent increase in funding rates for early childhood providers ($110.7 million), and a 1.6 per cent increase to the operational grants of schools ($90 million).
However, there is $634 million more in capital funding, including $428 million to build new schools or expand schools on top of the $1.2 billion allocated in 2019, and $150 million to ensure that 25 planned school redevelopments can begin construction.
There is also $67 million for programmes to address truancy, and students at risk of disengaging with school, as well as alternative education.
Education Minister Chris Hipkins has also allocated $240 million toward his reform of the education system, including moving to a centralised 'education service agency' to deliver services to schools and $162 million in operating and capital funding to overhaul the school curriculum.
Tertiary students get a $25 increase to their allowances or student loans from April 2022 as part of a wider move to lift benefit levels.
Labour has also moved to reinstate the Training Incentive Allowance for single parents who are studying or training, taking $127 million from the Covid-19 fund to do so.
The allowance for training and education for single parents and those on disability allowances was controversially scaled right back by the National Government, and Labour had promised to restore it.
Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni said she had once benefited from the allowance herself, and it would help 16,000 people to retrain or upskill.
She said it had a positive impact on the children of those people, and allowed them to move into better jobs.
"I remember thinking at the time how little sense it made [when National downscaled it]. I know how much difference it makes."
The allowance of up to $114 a week could be used for study costs such as fees, books and transport or childcare costs.
Sole parents and disabled people were among those most affected by the economic effects of Covid-19.
"Now is the right time to re-instate this allowance and help them reach their full potential."
The allowance will start from July 2021, and sole parents, disabled people and carers who are on benefits are eligible.
In the tertiary sector, vocational training organisations are the winners getting $279.5 million in extra funding over three years.
That would be used to increase apprentice and industry training by five per cent, and improve equity funding.
Hipkins said that was to address a long-standing imbalance in funding – money for vocation education had increased by 2.4 per cent between 2014 and 2019, compared to average 11.4 per cent increases for universities and other degree level education centres.
The Budget also delivers a 1.2 per cent increase across the board in tertiary education and training subsidies.
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