Education Minister Chris Hipkins’ Photo / Mark Mitchell

At least $200m in school buildings are not fit for purpose and will have to be knocked down, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today.

It is one of the examples of underinvestment which Labour has promised to release in the lead-up to the Budget.

Hipkins said today that the education sector was struggling not only to maintain existing facilities but to increase capacity to cope with population growth.

“There are at least a couple of hundred million dollars worth of school buildings which are … basically at the bottom end of the ranking in terms of whether they’re usable.

Some of the buildings were in schools which had extra capacity, so they could be demolished and not replaced. Others were at overcrowded schools and would need replacing.

“In most cases, where those buildings are in an abysmal state, they have been closed up and are not being used, Hipkins said.

Labour blames the underinvestment on the previous National Government’s fixation on Budget surpluses. However, National says Labour was making up for initially overpromising in the Budget and it is now blaming others for its failure to take account in day-to-day demands on the public purse.

In the House, Hipkins further revealed that there had been no increase in universal funding for early childhood education in a decade.

“This means that for centres with mainly qualified teachers, their funding rate has declined by 12 per cent in real terms since 2009, and the decline is 14 per cent for kindergartens.”

That meant ECE fees had risen faster than inflation – up 30 per cent between 2009 and 2017 compared to 21 per cent for earnings.

Source: NZ Herald

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