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NZ students protest outside PM’s conference

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Many groups from New Zealand’s education sector protested against education budget cuts by the National-led government in Auckland. New Zealand students marched from Auckland’s Britomart to SkyCity Convention Centre, where Prime Minister is attending the National Party Conference.

The ‘Show and Tell’ protest was an opportunity for a range of groups to “show their discontent and tell the truth about attacks on education,” say the organisers. The representatives of the PPTA, NZEI and student movement groups spoke about the impact of the government’s education cuts on their sectors.

Teachers are the experts in education, says Lynley Hunter, Auckland Regional Chairperson of the PPTA. “Ask them how to improve education for everyone.”

Frances Guy from the NZEI says the changes were “about privatisation, charter schools, league tables and performance pay,” and that “every child is entitled to the best teachers.”

One parent of three special-needs children says, “only one in 100 children who apply for Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) funding get it.”

Representing tertiary students, Jai Bentley-Payne, a postgraduate student and tutor in the sociology department at the University of Auckland, believes that students are not included in the government plans.

“Every time we hear about the plans of our government, they are notable for who is not included. Students are not included. Workers are not included. Poor people are not included. Women are not included. The marginalised, harassed and dispossessed are not included.

“Thousands more students will be forced to borrow to eat. Fifteen percent already live in absolute financial distress.

“We have some of the highest fees in the world, and $13 billion worth of student debt. We have forgotten what education is for. It is not a private investment scheme, it is for all of us to solve the big problems we face together.”

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