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Clueless on ACE

Written By: - Date published: 4:21 pm, October 21st, 2009 - 35 comments
Categories: education, national, scoundrels - Tags: ,

Night classes Adult and Community Education (ACE). An incredibly cost effective and valuable part of the NZ education sector for decades. The ACE budget has been eviscerated by National, cut from $16m to $3m. Effectively a death blow, most of the infrastructure and expertise will go.

These are stupid hypocritical cuts, and there is huge public opposition. Yesterday 53,000 signatures in support of Adult and Community Education (ACE) were delivered to parliament. So today the National party spin machine revs up to trot out the same old nonsense. Here is Kiwiblog:

Of course if people wish to still learn how to dye their silk scarves, or learn Moroccan cooking, they can still do so. But they will pay for the course, instead of forcing everyone else to fund it for them.

That’s pretty much the sum total of Farrar’s analysis of this important issue. Unfortunately even at this level he appears to be as clueless as his minister:

Moroccan mosaic tiling classes or twilight golf lessons were easy adult community education targets for the government cost-cutters, and they are difficult to defend. Why should hard-pressed taxpayers contribute to the cost of middle-class white folks’ hobby lessons? They also make for glib and snappy political statements.

But Education Minister Anne Tolley should take more care with her generalisations. The golf lessons were her example, picked at random from Wellington High School’s adult education prospectus during an interview with The Wellingtonian to make her point. Her press officer phoned our office later to ask for the quote to be removed from the story because, he said, they had discovered that the twilight golf lessons were not, in fact, taxpayer subsidised. Moroccan mosaic tiling was another of her examples and it may have even been a worse one.

Ooops! Turns out Moroccan cooking isn’t necessarily subsidised either. Ooops again! The fact is that while you can pick on some examples for “glib and snappy political statements”, most ACE courses are practical and useful. Furthermore, ACE gives a huge return on the investment of taxpayer funding. Check out the 2008 report from Price Waterhouse Coopers Economic Evaluation of Adult and Community Education Outcomes here:

Based on the available data, including the survey responses, the estimated economic impact of the ACE sector is between $4.8 and $6.3 billion annually. This equates to a return on investment of $54 – $72 for each dollar of funding. Each dollar of government funding generates a return of $16 – $22, but this is further leveraged through private contributions to the sector, including those voluntarily added such as unpaid volunteer labour. …

A key economic benefit of ACE is increased income for adult users because of subsequent involvement in paid or higher paid employment. Benefits were also realised through savings in government welfare benefits, savings in crime and health, value added through enhanced community participation and increased taxes. When compared to other community-based activities, ACE is likely to have one of the highest added values in economic terms, as it is largely focused on improving people’s productive lives through learning. Additionally, the benefits of enhanced learning are likely to have implication in all areas of an individual’s life, whether as employees, parents or members of the community.

How many other areas of government spending generate returns like that? How does it compare with returns on, just for example, the $50 Million for John’s vanity cycleway to nowhere? Oh that’s right – we don’t know – no one did any costings on the cycleway. This criticism from the government and their spinners on ACE is as clueless as it is hypocritical.

35 comments on “Clueless on ACE ”

  1. George D 1

    Of course he’s clueless. He posts on every subject under the sun, 8 times a day. Doing serious research, or getting a strong backgrounding in all these subjects is impossible, even for a workaholic. So he has to be glib. Pathetic, but at least his ignorance makes sense.

    The Minister, on the other hand, has no such excuse. She is supposed to have mastered her subject, after almost a year in the position (and time spent in opposition).

  2. Allan 2

    My wife and I have to pay out of our own hard earned money for our seven year old boy to go to Tai Kwan Do in the afternoons.

    Why the hell should I have to pay for adults to learn Tai Kwan Do in the evenings?


    • No need to shout grasshopper. We are all in this together actually Allan, supporting capacity building in our communities has wide benefits. In the Far North where I live ACE has contributed in myriad practical ways to literacy and developing skills useful for employment.

    • r0b 2.2

      Why the hell should I have to pay for adults to learn Tai Kwan Do in the evenings?

      What small fraction of a cent of your taxes goes to that purpose do you suppose? Do you begrudge it?


      No one?

      ACE education pays for itself many times over – please read the analysis of outcomes in the original post.

      • Tigger 2.2.1

        It’s okay Allan I’m paying towards the bringing up of your kid so we’re even.

        Thanks for funding my tai kwan do, it was fun.

        • QoT

          You know, Tigger, I sure hope Allan isn’t receiving Working for Families. That might make him a titanic hypocrite.

  3. Michael Over Here 3

    When I was struggling in a low paying job I took an adult education course at Takapuna Grammer that got me moving towards the career I am in today. It’s definitely made me a more productive member of society as I’ve gone from being just support to actually producing something in one of New Zealand’s fastest growing industries.

    • Steve 3.1

      Um Mike it is Takapuna Grammar, not Grammer.
      Good to see you learned.
      Or maybe your computer speeling chicker is broke

  4. tc 4

    Tolley is a classic example of where it’s at……a total shocker who is reverse robin hooding education….how else do private schools get more money whilst ACE gets a coffin.
    But again where’s the opposition person going one on one and hammering her again and again………..that’s what we pay the opposition for !

    On that subject what on earth does shane jones do ? I never liked Pete Hodgson much as a minister but I do like him in opposition as he gets stuck in…..where’s his peers !

    Tolley/Bennett/Collins/Smith……the targets don’t get much easier than these lightweights balancing up the female quota for those lovely pictures of ‘my government’

    • TC

      “how else do private schools get more money whilst ACE gets a coffin”

      Absolutely brilliant succinct analysis. I am going to use this line again.

      As for labour’s response our MPs have been talking about this issue and holding meetings and complaining and running petitions. We are not getting MSM recognition for this. It is a problem but I am not sure what we do.

      The Internet is the one place that we can raise these issues. The only problem is that thestandard and kiwiblog amongst others are at this stage only read by the converted. This site is great to inform and educate activists but in terms of persuading those who have not made their mind up it is not working, at least not yet …

  5. graham 5

    yes when the government is spending 250 million a week more that what it earns we need cross stich night classes GO LABOUR
    the polls go down the more they talk

    • felix 5.1

      Who told you it was about cross-stitch classes, Graham?

      Did you even read the post? Or any of the links?

    • You know what Graham, if you actually measured all the good that night classes did for the economy it would be a huge amount more than was spent on them.

      But you respond like an accountant. You do not measure the improvement in people’s lives or the flow on effect for society, just the amount of money collected as they walk into the class and the amount of money paid out to the tutor.

      Your analysis is superficial, short sighted and stupid. And yet with righteous indignation you insist that it is correct.

      Please tell us what the figures are, what we spend on ACE and what we get from it.

      If you can’t then I am happy to pay a little more tax so that you can attend a night class to learn about the real value of education.

    • Armchair Critic 5.3

      We’ll be needing to borrow that to subsidise dairy farmers graham.

  6. This is perhaps the dumbest most stupid decision the Nats have made. In Government terms the amount involved is small but the return is huge. If you could put a money value on what is actually produced you would be amazed.

    The money has gone to Kings College. I will spend the next two years reminding the population about this.

    The indignation already is huge and will only continue to grow as people realise what we have lost.

    • screech 6.1

      “I will spend the next two years reminding the population about this.”

      How many poeple read your blog ?

      • mickysavage 6.1.1

        I suspect that no poeple read it. What are they?

        I also have a real life.

      • Armchair Critic 6.1.2

        It’s about more than blogging, screech. I had my hair cut today and amongst other (non-political) things, I mentioned my low opinion of the government’s actions on ACE. I’m pretty sure the agreement I got was not solely due to the potential loss of my custom. Gotta start getting the message out somewhere.

  7. whatdeyeno 7

    Graham seems to be of a type that is selfish, self absorbed and without empathy. You know “Tax is theft and welfare is the road to hell” sort of ideology. That is until they need some community help themselves. I have never used ACE but I’m glad it is there for those that need it.

  8. Richard 8

    Many ACE course particpants are people who have worked hard and paid taxes for years, but placed few demands on our education system. You could argue that they have paid in full for their ACE courses over their working lives. Many have not had the fully State funded university degrees that existed in NZ until the late 80’s. Their taxes helped pay for degrees for John Key and Anne Tolley – whoops! Did she actually go to University?

  9. sk 9

    One angle that no one has mentioned is the high proportion of new immigrants who participate in ACE courses. We do a crap job of integrating migrants into NZ society, and ACE courses is one the rare places it happens.

    Sure we want to restrain growth in gov’t spending, but micky’s comment on King’s cuts to the chase. Why are private schools the beneficiary of any public money at all?

    • Richard 9.1

      And look at the social cost when migrants or refugees are not integrated, but isolated. $16M doesn’t go far in prisons or other social agencies left to pick up the pieces.

    • Roger 9.2

      sk, National have that angle covered, if they have their way, the new immigrants will all be multimillionaires who will have no need to integrate with the rest of us. They will fit in nicely in the rich national mates clique.

  10. Draco T Bastard 10

    How many other areas of government spending generate returns like that?

    Better question: How many private investments have returns like that?

  11. Oops

    After having now read the post properly I see that with a great deal of detail the cost of dowing away with the ACE funding has been specified.

    I should read the whole post more often 😕

  12. A Nonny Moose 12

    “One angle that no one has mentioned is the high proportion of new immigrants who participate in ACE courses.”

    Exactly. And also, the benefit it has of helping train beneficiaries so they can move off a benefit and into a job.

    Cuts to ACE sounds like a whole lot of classism and double standards. “Get off the dole, you lazy bums! But we’re not going to HELP you get off the dole! Continuing education?! Pay for it yourself, you tax dollar stealing cretins! Can’t pay for it out of your meager dole? Then get a job you lazy bums!”

  13. graham 13

    its not my job to help people to get off the dole.
    if you want a crap life stay there
    if you want a life with home ownership holidays etc
    get a job
    how hard is that

    • A Nonny Moose 13.1

      Graham, my Point is about 100 kilometres back that way.

      So, tell me EXACTLY how that dole bludger of yours is going to get a job, without bridging education, a little bit of mentoring, and someone to believe in them?

      You just lumped every person on a benefit into one heaving mass of stereotype. There’s the solo mum who is putting every last cent of her money into feeding her kids, with nothing left for her education. There’s the lost teenager who just needs a point in the right direction. There’s the 50-something guy made redundant after 20 years in the same job who needs a small up-skill.

      Oh sorry, there’s that Nanny State bullshit. Heaven help we actually reach out to our community.

  14. graham 14

    if you dont believe in your self why should i
    the world is tough so stop whineing and get up and go to work
    if you cant get a job go to a non profit org like saint vincent etc help out with your time it will help get you a job
    the problem with socalism it saps your personal selfrespect people wait for help rather than to get off their arse and help themself

  15. graham 15

    o and cold calling businesses offering to work a free trail period stoping smoking drinking and taking drugs helps too

  16. whatdeyeno 16

    Oh Graham I’m not sure how you work a trail or how I could stope smoking or drinking? Maybe there is a night class I could take. I’ll let you know if they do Adult literacy to help with your communication skills. But you might have to pay.

  17. A Nonny Moose 17

    Lordy Graham, you’d really hate Sweden then…

    Graham – if our government is supposed to be so hands off in health, justice, education and welfare, what ARE they there for?

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