Sandra Grey, national president of the TEU, says National must be held accountable for failing students and teachers across the education sector and for eroding the rights of all working people.
Imagine living in a country that genuinely ensured ‘inclusive and equitable quality education’ and promoted ‘lifelong learning opportunities for all’.
A country that provides free retraining if you are made redundant, enough support personnel to help children with learning needs, and one with classes in regional communities to meet needs.
Imagine my surprise when I found out in a meeting of the Council of Pacific Educators in Fiji that in 2015 the National government signed New Zealand up to that vision as part of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 2030.
Imagine my shame in an international meeting to have to publicly list the failures in New Zealand on both education and union rights listed in the UN goals.
So why both surprise and shame?
National may have signed the SDG goals which are about decent work, sustainability, accessibility, and well-being. But we have seen consistent policy and funding approaches by the National Government that undercut the goals which focus on human well-being and collective responses to the issues facing us.
Luckily this election provides us with an opportunity to hold them to account to abandoning this vision and harming our futures.
Why have National failed students and teachers across the education sector?
The cost of education is stopping people from accessing the courses they need. National’s funding model has resulted in the closure of courses at regional polytechnics and this prevents people from accessing courses.
The National government has allowed charter schools in and said they don’t have to have trained teachers which impacts on the quality of our education system, and they want to give more support to for-profit tertiary education providers whose focus is on profit not learning.
National has also failed in terms of the decent work agenda.
The law was changed and employers can sack people within 90 days without explaining why. Ask anyone you know who have lost their job under the 90-day rule how much this harms confidence and well-being.
National has made it harder for workers to take collective action and retain their collectively negotiated agreements. And they have not addressed the low wages which are not keeping up with the rising profits being made by those lucky enough to own companies.
These actions by National cut across their international commitment to the SDGs.
Can we imagine anyone else picking up the goals and running with them – not to look good to other governments but to truly change lives?
This election the Greens, Labour, and New Zealand First so far offer the best options on the two sets of SDG goals set out above on education.
It is the Greens, Labour, and Maori Party that offer most on ensuring decent work.
So if you think we all deserve decent work and accessible education use your vote to support action that will help make real the good life for all who live in Aotearoa.
Then next time I meet with teachers from across the Pacific I want to be proud and say New Zealand is not taking backward steps in ensuring decent work and accessible education for all.