NZEI Champions Quality Public Education
New Zealand’s largest education union, NZEI Te Riu Roa, says it’s vital for New Zealand’s future that we have a quality
public education service that is free, well resourced and universally accessible.
“A quality public education service helps build a strong economy, a fair society, and a stable and prosperous future,
that everyone can share,” NZEI Te Riu Roa National President, Irene Cooper, said at the opening of the union’s Annual
Meeting in Wellington today (Sunday September 24).
She told 400 NZEI members in the Wellington Town Hall that the country’s public education system is threatened by
“politicians and lobby groups that reject the idea of an inclusive public education system.”
She said they advocate policies such as bulk funding, vouchers and nationalised testing in primary schools that have
proven highly damaging to public education in the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States.
“We are fortunate that we have managed to keep these policies at arm’s length in New Zealand,” says Irene Cooper. “But
we only need to look back 12 months, to the last general election, to see how close we came to electing a government,
which would have taken our public education system down that free market path.”
NZEI’s response has been to develop a position paper entitled, ‘QPE 4 21C: Quality Public Education For The 21st
Century,’ which is being launched at NZEI’s Annual Meeting on Monday.
The paper spells out NZEI’s vision for public education in the 21st century. This is based on the principles that
education is a human right and a public good. Every child is entitled to a good local school and a good local early
childhood education centre. Every child is entitled to quality learning. And teachers play a critical role in providing
Irene Cooper said New Zealand has a world class public education system but we must address the fact that it is under
resourced. “This under resourcing compromises children’s learning and exhausts our members.”
Irene Cooper said if we are to achieve the goal of the Schooling Strategy of having every student achieve their
potential, we need to ensure that educators working in the public system have the resources and support they need.
“It costs 80 thousand dollars a year to keep an offender in the Corrections Service. We spend less than six thousand a
year to keep a student at school. Which is the better investment?”
Irene’s speech is at 4.00pm in the Wellington Town Hall auditorium