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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 25, No. 4. 1962.

Education for a People

Education for a People

The opening of a new era in both educational advancement and social democratisation was given a potential marking, two Mondays ago: the appeal for the Maori Education Foundation was opened. The inception of this appeal represents an embryonic development. For it to be counted a success, more than a million pounds cash must be found. However, mere money, often only a salve to an itchy conscience, is not truly sufficient to guarantee success; this appeal, above all else, requires the support of the people of New Zealand, and in particular, of the Maori. At the present time, it appears that leaders, both Maori and European, are giving full support to this venture — it is to be hoped that this lead will eventuate into something of substance.

We New Zealand students, as a group, are often accused of being apathetic, difficult to rouse, in a word, lethargic. The Foundation represents a challenge, which, if taken up, will throw these accusations back in the face of our accusers. What is the Foundation aiming to do with the funds? They will be used principally, to finance the Post Primary and University education of academically fit Maori students. It is to be hoped that a certain proportion will also be given to post Graduate Scholarships and educational research — on problems associated with Maori education.

Why does the Maori need "special" education provision? The answer to this is complex, but a simplification may be put thus: at present the Maori represents a socially depressed class; bad housing, inadequate sanitary and health practices and a concentration of wage-earners in the lower income bracket, all these factors contribute to the why of the problem. By far the most important determinant is that of a high birth-rate (double that of the European). It can be easily seen that in the average Maori family of two adults and six children, "living" on an annual income of about £600 (this represented the average in 1960) little incentive is provided to continue higher education. It is hoped that the Foundation, by providing Scholarships, will, in some way, alter the Maori aspirational patterns toward higher education. As we have said before, money is not the only factor; the support of the Maori population is a prerequisite; but this support will be equally inadequate without the financial resources to put the scheme into effect.

We are asking you, one and all—when the campaign for funds is launched at Victoria—to give as generously as you can; both of your time (for collectors are required), and of hard cash. It is only through equality of educational provision (i.e., taking account of the special factors that prevail upon the Maori section of the community) that equality of social opportunity can become a reality, and not, as it stands at present, just another myth. We, in New Zealand, provide for some of the requirements of the Colombo Plan—and quite rightly; but in the midst of this we must not lose sight—that "charity" (there must be a more suitable word) begins at home. A possible solution has been forwarded: cash—plus. The rest is over to us. —M.J.W.