Education at risk under TPP " union

By Staff Reporter

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The New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) has voiced serious concerns about the Government's intention to sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).

The teachers' union believes that public education will be seriously undermined after the free trade agreement is signed.

NZEI Te Riu Roa national secretary Paul Goulter says the deal puts at risk the rights of sovereign nations to enact laws and regulations that stop foreign edu-businesses from setting up in New Zealand, maximising their profits and dominating New Zealand education.

"This is a major threat to our fee-free, high-quality public education system," said Mr Goulter.

"The TPPA wording is ambiguous but analysis of the documents clearly shows the agreement would allow international corporates to move into the education sector in New Zealand. In no country has that ever worked.

"Unlike Singapore, which carved out a clear exemption, it appears that New Zealand's negotiators have put at risk the rights of future governments to protect public education against any changes that would disadvantage global edu-businesses.

"Sitting beside the Government's plans for private education to be included in the TiSA (Trade in Services Agreement), there is now a clear threat to our quality public education system.

"Let's be clear, the TPPA is an international trade agreement aimed at ensuring that global corporates can trade and make profits - it is not about providing free good quality public education for children and future generations."

NZEI have asked the Government to reconsider signing the deal in its current form. Mr Goulter said the Government has not responded to the union's request and he would like to see New Zealand follow Singapore's example and protect public education.

In a column in the New Zealand Herald on Friday, Mr Goulter said New Zealand faced the risk of "an education system where multi-national corporations could set up a school alongside your local public school and then demand equal access to the taxpayer purse to fund that school".

"Our negotiators either didn't manage, or more likely didn't even try, to get a similar 'out' clause for education in New Zealand. As a consequence, they have put at risk the rights of future governments to protect our public education system against any 'level-playing field' changes that would disadvantage global edu-businesses."

Mr Goulter said our Government needs to be reminded that quality public education is the right of every child and must never become a taxpayer-funded opportunity for global corporate profit.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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