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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 9, No. 10. August, 7, 1946

"Salient" Investigates Election Platforms—Major Parties Interviewed

"Salient" Investigates Election Platforms—Major Parties Interviewed

Students do not live in ivory towers, and an intelligent interest in the forthcoming election will undoubtedly be displayed by many. In view of this attitude "Salient" decided to interview the leading personages of the major parties, in order to ascertain their platforms, particularly with regard to education. It must be pointed out that "Salient" does not take sides in this issue but merely endeavours to present the authentic proposals for critical examination.

These are the questions submitted to the National Executive of the Labour Party and to the Leader of the Opposition:
1.What are your general proposals in regard to education for the forthcoming elections?
2.Do these proposals take into account the increased numbers of students?
(a)What about increase in the size of buildings?
(b)Extension of staff and the raising of their salaries?
(c)Should the Government pay a greater share of University expenses?
3.How do you account for the enormous increase in the number of students?
(a)Is it because the school leaving age is now higher?
(b)Is it because of a higher standard of living?
(c)What other factors do you consider responsible for it?
4.How do you account for the flight of New Zealand intellectuals overseas?
5.Are you prepared to give greater scope and encouragement to graduates so that the country may benefit to the fullest from their accumulated knowledge?
6.What ore your proposals for removing inequality of opportunity in regard to higher education?
7.What is your attitude towards equal remuneration of men and women graduates, particularly with reference to teachers?
8.Do you consider that the school leaving age requires to be raised further?
9.Aro you in favour of a compulsory part-time post-secondary scheme?

National

Our reporter was fortunate in contacting personally the Leader of the Opposition. In his interview Mr. Holland indicated his preference for submitting a statement of policy in writing, rather than answering the questions individually. In accordance with his express wish, "Salient" is publishing the full text of his letter below.

"It is presumed that members of the college are concerned mainly with education policy as it affects the university and its constituent colleges, but I wish to say generally that the main consideration of our policy is the welfare of the child. We believe that the best brains and characters must be attracted to the teaching profession and pay and conditions of service must be adjusted so as to attract these people; it will be necessary also to overhaul the methods of selecting trainees. A fifth training college will have to be established, and in view of the importance of rural education and ideals, this should, if possible, be attached to one of the agricultural colleges. One of the first things to be done must be to implement the scheme for smaller classes, but until this is done and an adequate supply of teachers is available it will not be possible to raise the school leaving age further: our objective is, however, to raise the age to sixteen as soon as conditions warrant.

"Members of the College will no doubt appreciate the fact that after the last war the University population showed a very considerable and permanent increase, and the same will happen this time, and provision will have to be made accordingly in regard to buildings, equipment and staff. In our view the true functions of a University are firstly the pursuit and dissemination of knowledge, and secondly, research. The teaching of the Undergraduate student naturally arises out of these two.

"To enable this idea to be given effect would require a much more [unclear: liberal] staffing both as to number and salary than at present exists, so that professors and senior lecturers could obtain relief from the very heavy burden of lectures they are at present carrying. A University College should also carry cut regional functions and the course of the growth of University education in this country is admirably suited to carry this out. but in the past both professors and lecturers have been too tied down by their teaching and examining duties and the staffs provided have been inadequate to carry out this idea.

"It is recognised that a University must have the utmost freedom to develop and must not be regarded as the top story of a State-controlled educational edifice. The Government can encourage and provide the means but the real development and inspiration must come from the University itself and from the Senate and the governing bodies of the constituent Colleges.

I have not commented on the question of equal pay for male and female teachers—the whole question of salaries is at present before a consultative committee which will be able to elicit all the facts and until that is done any expression of opinion would not be proper.

"I can assure you that my party, comprising as it does so many university men. fully appreciates the tremendous importance of education in all its aspects and realises that all its ideas cannot be carried out unless the present education vote is increased. We are determined, however, to put our proposals into operation for as has been most truly said, 'upon Education the future of the Nation depends.'

"This very brief [unclear: statement] is not intended as an official policy statement but is rather a general statement indicating the direction in which the "National Party is looking in connection With education matters, which we regard as of the greatest importance to the future welfare. of the country.

"Our policy concerning education is at the moment receiving the intensive study of a specially chosen committee of the Parliamentary Caucus and full details of our progressive proposals will be released when the coming election campaign is launched.

S. G. Holland."

Labour

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.