Government’s education policy doesn’t compute

National says their latest $160m commitment over four years for a second language at primary schools will ‘ensure all children have the opportunity to learn a second language at primary school, if they choose to.’ But the figures don’t add up, says Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins.

“Such a policy would require a language teacher in every primary school, or at least the equivalent resourcing across the country. Assuming a salary of $60,000 and not accounting for any overheads or training, it would cost $117m per year to ensure every primary school had a fully qualified language teacher.

“Even if National put language assistants in every school, rather than fully qualified and registered teachers, the policy would still cost more than $100m per year.

“So why has National only costed the policy at $40m per year?

“The numbers just don’t add up, and National has yet to provide any details or factsheet for their policy beyond a single press release.

“Not only that, there appears to be major ambiguity as to whether schools will even be required to offer a language.

“Nikki Kaye said in her press release that schools ‘will be required to offer at least one second language to their students’.

“Yet at a press conference after his announcement, Bill English was asked whether a school could opt not to offer their students any language even if those students wanted to learn one and he said ‘well that could happen.’

“Is National costing the uptake of this policy at just a third of schools? If so, why wasn’t Bill English upfront about that yesterday?

“Labour will invest an additional $4 billion over four years to deliver a modern education system by cancelling National’s poorly targeted tax cuts.

“Labour’s commitments for education will ensure our kids get the best start in life and relieve the growing financial pressure on parents. They’re also fully costed.” says Chris Hipkins.


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