Guest Post: Defending public education as a social good

Posted By TEU on Aug 3, 2017 | 1 comment

Diane McCarthy, a TEU member from the Ara Institute of Canterbury, shares what it was like submitting oral evidence to the Education and Science Select Committee on the tertiary education bill.

Speaking from Christchurch by teleconference to the select committee on behalf of our TEU branch Executive Committee was an exciting experience.

As a state house girl from 1950s Naenae, having access to quality public education is what has made the difference in my life. I was determined to make the strongest case possible to challenge opening up polytechnic funding to the private sector, from the perspective of my experience working at the Ara Institute of Canterbury.

My evidence drew from data supplied by Ara’s Acting Chief Executive, Darren Mitchell. It showed that 90 per cent of Ara’s funding could become competitive if the law change is enacted.

Responding to a question from the Hon. Jo Goodhew, MP for Rangitata, where  Ara is based, I also said that Ara had needed time to research and trial courses in agriculture, in the wider Canterbury Region, rather than no longer deliver courses from Timaru.

Ensuring public institutions have the opportunity to trial courses is vital.

From the qualitative perspective, I cited students who had benefited from the School of Computing courses where I work, who have made a career in IT as software developers, web designers, business analysts and network engineers. I explained that we cross subsidised our course delivery and had Timaru staff teach our Christchurch based courses as well.

I said I was proud of what Ara does, and we need to keep polytechnic funding as a social good, for the good of Canterbury as a whole.

As the submission ended, Hon Jo Goodhew stated that she would have to beg to disagree with me. One of the women on the select committee quipped “So what would convince you, Jo?”

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