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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 9, No. 12. September 25, 1946

Government and Education

Government and Education

With the coming into power of the Labour Government in 1935 a new era dawned in the history of education in New Zealand. In contradistinction to their policy in most other Departments, the Government changed key personnel in the Education Department, and appointed men who were not altogether opposed to their policy.

Five-year-olds were re-admitted, Training Colleges re-opened, and Teachers' salaries were increased. Later the Proficiency Examination was abolished, primary education was no longer formal but free, and teachers were no longer graded on examination passes but on every aspect of their teaching. This produced a completely new attitude on the part of teachers and also had the effect of abolishing the means test for entry into secondary schools. Every aspect of primary education was liberalised.

With the abolition of Proficiency and the higher standard of living a new type of pupil came to Secondary Schools and the urgency of liberalising the curriculum to suit new conditions soon became evident. When the Government did at last move in this direction Hansard records that the Nationalists opposed and obstructed the Government at every turn in carrying out reforms long since overdue. In a recent issue of "Salient" the National Party said that it was in favour of raising the School Leaving Age. It would be difficult to surpass such consummate demagogy, as they have always opposed such action. New Technical and Intermediate Schools have been established in an endeavour to meet new conditions and to close the gap between Primary and Secondary Schools.

The granting of University Bursaries on the basis of Higher Leaving Certificate and the granting of boarding bursaries to needy students together with the Government's progressive policy in Secondary Schools are contributing causes to the present overcrowding in Universities. New Zealand is the only British country in which university education has become literally free.

In order to raise the academic standard and to bring the Universities into line with the Primary and Secondary Schools it will be necessary to establish new Technological Colleges and perhaps Provincial Universities. Only a Labour Government would be capable of doing this since, if the Nationalists object to broadening and liberalising the curricula in other schools surely they will sabotage every effort to improve University Education.

The Government has done everything to encourage local industry and this has led to the establishment of new research institutions and accounts for the tremendous expansion of the DSIR. On the other hand the National Party has no desire to see New Zealand industrialised and if they took office, New Zealand would have little room for scientists and technicians. It is not interested in bringing enlightenment and culture to the people but has use for only a few clerks and technicians to keep accounts and to find efficient methods for making more profits for the capitalist class.

* * *

It is not without the greatest difficulty that "Salient" has been brought out at all this year. For the most part issues were overset, even to the extent of bringing out three twelve-page editions that were not budgeted. Next year will see an improvement—staff and paper will be organised to handle the increased material. For the present our greatest thanks go to the printer, whose untiring efforts and goodwill have made "Salient" possible.