62 schools to stop offering night classes

Last updated 18:50 07/10/2009

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More than 180,000 people are likely to miss out on night classes next year following funding cuts, Labour says.

In May's budget, funding for adult community education was cut from $16 million to $3 million, with the Government saying it paid for hobby courses.

Since then there has been intense criticism of the cut, with opponents saying courses will be slashed.

Education Minister Anne Tolley has repeatedly said with New Zealand in a recession the Government was focusing on foundation skills such as literacy, numeracy and language courses.

The Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) released figures showing 50 schools – from 212 currently – will provide courses next year.

The TEC expected 25,000 adults would be able to attend community education classes next year.

Central, South and West Auckland, Waikato, Wellington, Bay of Plenty and Canterbury looked likely to receive the bulk of the placements.

The funded courses included; maths for household budgeting, helping your child read and English for non-English speakers, as well as NZ sign language and te reo.

Funding arrangements were still be worked out and a final decision was expected by the end of the month.

TEC director of PTE and community education Pauline Barnes said with the changes to the funding requirements it was hard to compare the number of courses and students.

"ACE (Adult Community Education) allocations for 2009 were not based on learner numbers, unlike ACE allocations for 2010."

Schools were given overall funding and asked to report at the end of the year.

"Therefore, the TEC does not have the details on learner numbers at this stage," she said.

Labour MP Maryan Street said the TEC's provisional figures showed the "true carnage" of the funding cuts.

There were currently more than 220,000 people enrolled in ACE courses around the country, Ms Street said.

"That's up to 180,000 adult learners who could now miss out.

"Whilst schools which get no funding could technically run their own user-pays courses, it is anticipated few will actually be able to do so without Government support."

Schools in low income areas were particularly unlikely to be able to afford it, she said.

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- NZPA

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