Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 13, No. 11. June 8th, 1950
A Policy for Education
A Policy for Education
Within a few weeks, the new Parliament will meet, and among other revelations, we are to see what a National Government intends to do about education in this country.
It is probably not saying too much to say that the Labour Government in 1935 was the first ever to go into office with an education policy. It was consistent, coherent, based on the best of overseas experience and theory combined with a pretty accurate assessment of N.Z. conditions and society structure. More than that, it was implemented. This was a combination of virtues which made it very hard to criticise in its own ground, very easy to attack from the £SD office efficiency angle.
From those statements of the new Minister's policy which we have seen, it is clear that he is by no means in accord with the past Government's policy. He has fallen out already over odd matters with the NZEI, the official teachers' organisation; they have disliked his idea of asking the bank managers and local business men who make up the education boards of the country to comment on technical matters concerning educational aims of this country. It seems likely, too, from statements which have appeared that Mr. Algie is at variance with his own department. He has stated that he dislikes the amount of detailed work he has to do, and has made oblique criticisms of his department in unusually strong terms for a Minister speaking of his permanent service.
The effect of this policy—if one can grace it with that nan—of university education is not yet clear. But it seems pretty certain that, for instance, the quite just and consistent claims for bursaries are likely to be voices crying in a political wilderness. So far as we can see, the new "policy" becomes coherent only if one bases it on the twin premises that education is something like making sausages, the value of which can be measured in terms of expenditure and income, and that education is either (a) an unnecessary luxury for those who can afford it or (b) a bare technical preparation for life for those who can't.
It seems probable that the first proposition will affect us the more. Outside the technical side (and even that may be affected by the "luxury" view of education) university education is likely to suffer because the country needs to be much more concerned with the best system of off course betting than with creating a forcing house for ideas.
Only time will show—we are afraid.
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