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Mike's Minute: Govt priorities for education are all wrong

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Tue, 6 Sep 2022, 9:29am

Mike's Minute: Govt priorities for education are all wrong

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Tue, 6 Sep 2022, 9:29am

The Government needs the polytech redundancies like a hole in the head.

230 jobs look set to be going from AUT. Education in this country is a mess.

From the earliest days until your last, the system is shambolic, the kids who leave are under-educated and aren't able to read or write to an acceptable level. With subjects like maths and science we've slipped down the international ladder.

And we have the kids who just don’t turn up at all to school.  We have the crisis in staffing where getting a teacher in front of some kids is a small miracle in itself.

Of course, none of that has been addressed. What has been addressed is a fairly successful polytech system that was by in large minding its own business, until the Government, weighed down in their ideological blindness, rolled into town and upended the whole thing.

A new centralised system that is ladened down with debt, had a CEO that wasn’t at work on full pay, until he quit, and various other senior players who have quit and spoken out about the mess of an idea it is.

And now, the inevitable layoffs.

Of course, some of it is predictable. We have tight job market, the sort of job market you get when you lock people out of the country. And a decent chunk of those locked out were students who, not so long ago, brought $5 billion into the nation's bottom line. When you lock those people out, you tend not to need as many teachers. And so here we are.

Also in a tight job market, you get people who find work more easily, hence don't enrol in polytech.

Which leads to a bigger question, just how much of polytech is useful? Just how many people study for the sake of study? How many people are on a pathway? And how much of it doesn’t actually lead anywhere too specific?

There have been too many "bums on seats" courses funded by the taxpayer. There's nothing wrong with study, but courses that benefit us all are the future. People and skills we need are the future.

And of course, having laid all these people off, and they won't be the last, and when the students return, the economy falters, and the demand returns, then what? This seems haphazard. This doesn't seem to be part of a big picture plan.

Of all the stuff in education that needs urgent attention, why did they take a successful sector and bugger it up?  

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