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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 39, Number 16, July 12, 1976.

Educ Cuts Continue

page 2

Educ Cuts Continue

One of the main myths created by the present government is the idea of knuckling down together and tightening our belts to overcome the economic crisis we are facing The rationale behind this is that we are taught to assume that all cuts the Government sees fit to make are necessary restrictions on non-essential items. Thus the government makes cuts to education services while Gandar claims that "existing levels of provision and services in education are being maintained."

But this is not true, for the cuts do not simply mean teachers have to knuckle down and do a bit more work; rather it means the children get poorer education.

This has been highlighted by the restrictions on the employment of relieving teachers The Government has decreed that any teacher who "does not have full time responsibility for a class" must be called upon as a reliever, with no limit to the number of times this can happen. This means that teachers working on special programmes (e.g. remedial reading classes) will have them constantly interrupted, because they must mind a class whose teacher is absent.

These special programmes which are not luxuries but of crucial importance to the children concerned are being jeopardized by this shortsighted government policy.

Government has also decreed that the principal will act as a relieving teacher for five days each term. This is completely ignoring the fact that it is not a simple case of a principal doing "a bit more work" but rather that he cannot do two jobs at once. If the principal is acting as a reliever and a headmaster his ability to respond to a crisis in the school is obviously impared.

Clyde Quay School is a typical example of the effects of such shortsighted cuts. Due to the multiracial nature of the school population, special programmes were in operation to help children overcome the language barrier. However, under the new regulations the two senior teachers employed in these special programmes have become relief teachers and the teacher aide's hours cut to fifteen each week. Now the special programmes are being jeopardised by the consequent lack of staff.

Another example is the situation facing Mana College where classes, many of them preparing for exams, are left without the supervision of relief teachers. One morning there were about 70 pupils in the school Hall spending the first period by talking, playing cards and other pastimes simply because there were not enough teachers to supervise them.

On 16 of the 25 school days this term, classes have had to go without teachers and there have been up to 150 students in the hall at one time under the supervision of one teacher.

A second dramatic cut has been in the area of clerical assistants and teacher aides. Now this extra assistance has been halved. Again this affects those schools who can least afford it and has resulted in the sacking of many teacher aides.

Another myopic cut comes in the area of teacher refresher schemes.

In most board districts the majority of the courses have simple been cancelled to forthwith Drastic travel restrictions have been imposed on such key people as psychologists, specialist teachers and advisers, resulting in a under-utilization of their resources.

Apart from the effect that retrenchment will have on education in general these cuts will particularly affect children with special needs i.e. those in rural areas, those emotionally disturbed, or those needing additional assistance because of their socioeconomic and multi-racial character:

Hard Times Ahead for University Students

With an overall increase of student rolls of 7% this year and an expected 4% next year the future looks pretty grim for university students. This unexpected increase combined with a 30 - 40% rise in some university costs is heavily taxing already limited resources. Victoria's $8.9 million budget is being stretched to meet even last year's standards and has meant:-
1.Higher staff/student ratios e.g. the Accountancy Dept now has a ratio of 1:24. This means lecturers are teaching classes of more than 400 with some students sitting in the aisles.
2.Drastic and sudden cuts of nearly 25% in books and periodicals bought for the library Though the library received $10,000 more this year it will need another $83,000 simply to continue the 1975 levels of expenditure.
3.Holding Science Department Grants at 1975 levels in spite of large cost increases for equipment.
4.The appointment of lecturers for three year instead of the traditional permanent appointment.

Another example of the mindless tactics of the Government are the cuts in University Research Grants. For the next two years grants will be halved and there will be no money for post-doctoral fellowships This means that university research in key fields such as agriculture, forestry and engineering, vital to our economy, will be totally inadequate.

Victoria is fairly typical of the problems facing other universities throughout the country. Unfortunately the situation doesn't look as if its going to improve. Although the universities are bound by a 5 year block grant for finance the last grant was made in 1975 so there will be no more money for extra staff or facilities until 1980. Mr L. TAuoroa, Deputy Secretary to the Vice Chancellor's Committee prophecied these words of doom: "If the Universities can't get more money and rolls also increase next year, student numbers may have to be restricted. Universities can't bar first-year students. But what they could do is clamp down on others who have failed their units and exclude them from further study."

We cannot afford to let this happen. We must act now to safeguard not only our education but that of our children's. Education is a right. To restrict that right by cuts in spending is to make it the domain of the wealthy.

March against education cuts on July 23

Drawing of a snail and a desk covered in cobwebs