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In the classroom . . . Labour candidate for Waitaki Zelie Allan helps Pembroke School pupils Uliti Pouha (10, left), Andy Anderson (10), Lily Todd (8) and Cooper Kennedy (9) with their maths during her visit to the school lastTuesday. PHOTO: DANIEL BIRCHFIELD

Labour candidate Zelie Allan says the quality of eduction in Waitaki district schools is being compromised due to a lack of funding, which she claims is forcing schools into “begging” for money.

Mrs Allan, who will contest the seat held by National’s Jacqui Dean at September’s general election, visited Pembroke School on Tuesday to spend the morning alongside teacher aides and meet principal Brent Godfery.

She said school support staff such as teacher aides had been “funded out” of schools’ operational budgets, which meant they had to make tough decisions involving funding.

“The present Government has put a freeze on school operation funds. Schools should not have to be choosing between books in the library for kids or funding support staff workers for kids with high levels of need.”

In March, the NZEI Te Rui Roa said funding for schools’ operational grants – used to pay non-teacher staff – was frozen this year.

It argued for the freeze to be lifted so teacher aides could get a 2% pay rise, in line with teachers, without schools having to cut resources.

“Under National, the cuts are forcing up the costs and effecting the quality of education and Labour wants to change it. We will invest in education so that schools can get on with teaching and not begging for money,” Mrs Allen said.

In March, then-Education Minister Hekia Parata told the Otago Daily Times the Government’s role was to fund state and state-integrated schools to provide a good public education.

This financial year, that amounted to more than $11 billion – the highest investment ever made in public education.