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Council asks Government to review decision

5 June 2007

Christchurch City Council has asked the Government to urgently review its decision to decline on-going funding for Christchurch’s South Learning Centre.

Funding for the Centre runs out at the end of this month.

Christchurch Mayor Garry Moore has written to Minister of Education Steve Maharey expressing his disappointment at the Minister’s decision, saying he is at a loss to understand why the Ministry would not continue to fund such a successful facility.

"Council has always seen the South Learning Centre as an important partnership between local and central Government to provide a facility which delivers cutting edge life-long learning opportunities.

"We – the Council, schools and community – have all worked so hard to make this facility a success. I’m disappointed that such an inflexible approach has been taken by the Ministry in providing continued funding."

Set-up in September 2003 at South Christchurch Library, following closure of Sydenham School, the Centre provides leading edge technology and innovative learning opportunities for 23 schools in south Christchurch and the local community.

Government contributed $850,000 in 2003 to set-up the centre, a one-off grant to fund expenses related to its use by local schools. In December 2006, Council requested an on-going financial commitment from Government for the next five years of $205,000 or $20 per student per annum. This was endorsed by the 23 schools but declined late last month by the Ministry.

Mr Moore said South Learning Centre was an outstanding model of educational innovation and excellence. It had brought technology into the classrooms of the 23 schools in south Christchurch which used the facility and made it part of everyday life for their students. Student motivation and engagement in learning had been enhanced by the experience.

"The South Learning Centre is integral to enabling the Government, as Mr Maharey said in his letter to schools accompanying the draft New Zealand Curriculum, to ‘ an education system for the 21st Century; a system where every child and student is stimulated to learn’."

He said the new curriculum called for "a shared focus" to let students "…reach their potential and develop competencies and knowledge that will prepare them for adaptation and change as they meet the complex demands of an increasingly diverse and interconnected community and globalised society".

"As I see it the South Learning Centre already achieves all these aims and will help the Government achieve its goal of ‘…transforming New Zealand into a knowledge-based economy and society’. I challenge the Minister to reconsider his decision."

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