Labour education ideas already in place, says National

VERNON SMALL
Last updated 16:24 05/07/2014

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National has accused Labour of playing "catch up" with its education policy, which includes providing laptops to school pupils.

Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye said Labour was promoting ideas the Government already had in place.

Labour leader David Cunliffe today said he would campaign on a policy ensuring all 5-13 year school students would have access to portable computers in the classroom and at home.

"The world has changed but our schools haven't," he said at the party's election-year congress.

By 2017 all children and young people would use personal digital devices for learning. Labour would base its policy on the East Tamaki Manaiakalani project which saw families pay $3.50 a week for new and insured devices which they got to keep.

Cunliffe said Labour would also rebuild outdated buildings to ensure schools were fit for the 21st century. 

Kaye said National already had a building programme in place to modernise and upgrade schools and their broadband networks, and to partner with communities to provide digital hubs.

"Last year National announced a change in policy to enable schools to extend their school internet to the surrounding area so students and families can access the internet from home," she said.

It had also invested $35m in professional learning and development targeted at digital technology.

She said Labour's subsidy for portable devices had not been thought through and it had not done its homework.

She wondered if Labour would offer the subsidy to every one of the 580,000 students in years 4-13.

Primary teachers Union NZEI welcomed the policy saying access to low cost computers would help prepare students for further education and work.

But president Judith Nowatarski said it was crucial the policy was supported by quality and ongoing professional development for teachers.

"There also needs to be adequate provision for tech support, internet costs and repairs and upgrades."

NO TOP POSTS FOR INTERNET-MANA

Cunliffe has all but ruled out Internet-Mana MPs being Cabinet ministers in a Labour led government.

Labour would work constructively with any party that wanted to change the government after the election.

But it was extremely unlikely that Mana leader Hone Harawira and Internet Pay leader Laila Harre would be Cabinet ministers in a labour-led government.

He did not believe they would be surprised by his comments.

"That's not to say that every party that might want to support a Labour-led government would actually be around the Cabinet table. That's another thing entirely."

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He said the most likely players would be the Greens and NZ First "if that's what they choose to do".

"And that would be the foundation of an incoming government."

He said he was open to the Greens and NZ First being inside Cabinet as opposed to ministers outside cabinet.

But he reiterated Labour would do no deals ahead of the election.

- Stuff

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