New Zealand Teachers threaten Action over Cuts

Yesterday's Protest in Wellington

Teachers in New Zealand are considering taking action over cuts to teaching jobs proposed by the government

Teachers and parents protested in Wellington yesterday outside a meeting of the local Chamber of Commerce attended by education minister, Heika Parat. The government is proposing to cut staff at 245 schools who stood to lose up to seven teachers. In the face of protests, it has now capped the number of teachers to be lost at any school to two. Parat refused to accept a letter from the protesters, prompting one to ask: "Why is she talking to the fat cats inside when the people most directly concerned are outside demanding answers?"

The cuts will mean larger classes and cuts in some subjects - particularly technology. Chair of the primary teachers' union NZEI said the union was considering what action to take, since the loss of teachers would inevitably lead to higher class sizes. He said: "We want to ascertain what teachers and what communities are prepared to do. We think everyone will recognise that this affects every classroom and every school and every child."

Earlier in May, students protested against budget cuts in higher education. One spokesperson said: "We have had enough of the short sighted, mindless politics of austerity that limit who gets access to tertiary education and that see us paying rent to a generation that had everything they are taking from us.”

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