Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 9, No. 10. August, 7, 1946
Our reporter saw the National Secretary of the Labour Party, Mr. Moohan, who patiently answered the many questions put to him.
He stated emphatically that a Government's social outlook is nowhere better demonstrated than in its education policy. The keystone of Labour policy is the free provision of the best educational facilities to every individual up to the limit of his or her capacity.
In answer to (2) Mr. Moohan put forward the Labour Party's determination to carry out. during the next five years, a vigorous building programme to overtake wartime arrears and to enable a much improved school accommodation standard at primary, intermediate and secondary levels.
what about your attitude towards university extension?
"On full authority I cab state that the Government will co-operate with the university in accelerating an ambitious building programme: it will increase grants for special purposes to university colleges and will increase the number of full-time bursaries. We agree on principle with a two to one subsidy for a new student building in Wellington." (Since approved.—Ed.)
Mr. Moohan dealt at length with the social and economic aspect of question (3) "Most definitely the Universities are crowded because of an improved standard of living. The Labour Party, unlike its Tory opponents, does not place restrictions on learning. The closing of the Training Colleges by the Tory Government and the cutting of teachers' salaries was an indefensible political action. The full employment policy of the Government has enabled parents to send their children to a University instead of having to send them to work in order to support the family. Moreover, in years to come, the effect of the family allowance will make itself felt in the field of higher education. Some mothers will undoubtedly save the ten shillings per week for that purpose, and the saving alone over the period of sixteen years will amount to £416."
In answer to questions (4) and (5) Mr. Moohan claimed that knowledge is universal. The New Zealand graduate may go to England or America to further his studies and to gain additional technical experience. Many English scientists have come to this country and New Zealand has benefited considerably from their contribution to our national life. It must be said that it is our primary task and duty to encourage those students who go abroad to return to New Zealand, so that we may benefit by their accumulated knowledge. There is still much space for improvement, and we are determined to guarantee greater scope and encouragement to our own graduates.
With regard to question (6) Mr. Moohan pointed out that inequality of opportunity for higher education had under the Labour Government already been considerably reduced, principally by the extension of the bursary system and the Introduction of family allowances. This alone, however, could not be regarded as a completely satisfactory solution of the problem. Inequality of opportunity could only be removed if the Labour Government were enabled to continue its policy of social justice in raising the standard of living of all sections of the community to such a level that the benefits of higher education fall within the reach of all. In the meantime, to further the aim of equality of educational opportunity the Labour Government will extend the system of free distribution of text books until it is general throughout primary and secondary schools.
"The Labour Party's attitude toward equal remuneration for men and women has always been clear. Our final aim in a struggle for social betterment is 'equal pay for equal work.' A beginning has already been made for women on the trams and in some of the secondary industries. Equal pay must come eventually. My personal attitude is that university graduates having undertaken the same course of studies must have equal remuneration irrespective of sex. Teachers will un-doubtedly come under that category.
"In approaching question (8) we must be extremely practical. It is desirable to raise further the school leaving age from an economic, social and physiological point of view. A youth of fifteen has by no means reached the stage where he should compete with adults. But our paramount consideration and attention must be focussed on building. We need many more new schools and we are going to have them. We intend to build them on the advice of educational experts so that New Zealand school children will at last enjoy the most progressive school system in the world. The school leaving age will be further raised as soon as a supply of buildings and teachers permits it."
Finally, dealing with post-secondary education Mr. Moohan drew our attention to the recent establishment by statute of the Council of Adult Education. Furthermore, it is intended to provide a polytechnic service to meet the growing needs of adolescent and adult industrial workers. The technical colleges at Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch. Dunedin, Hamilton, Palmerston North and Invercargill are to be developed into senior colleges equipped to train senior students in a widening range of trades and advanced industrial techniques. Moreover, the labour Government has just Introduced an amendment to the Apprenticeship Bill which includes the important provision for technical education of apprentices in the employer's time.