Com­mu­nity ed­u­ca­tion con­tin­ues de­spite cuts

Central Leader - - NEWS - By DANIELLE STREET

Com­mu­nity educators are spread­ing the mes­sage they are open for busi­ness in the wake of the re­cent clo­sure of an­other com­mu­nity ed­u­ca­tion cen­tre.

Mt Al­bert Gram­mar Com­mu­nity Ed­u­ca­tion closed its doors for the last time in De­cem­ber prompt­ing pro­gramme co-or­di­na­tors from West­ern Springs Col­lege and Mt Roskill Gram­mar cen­tres to alert the pub­lic that they still are tak­ing en­rol­ments for 2013.

The demise of the Mt Al­bert cen­tre means there are only 12 com­mu­nity edu- cation cen­tres op­er­at­ing in the greater Auck­land re­gion.

There were 37 Auck­land cen­tres be­fore the government im­ple­mented fund­ing cuts for com­mu­nity ed­u­ca­tion in 2009.

Mt Roskill cen­tre co­or­di­na­tor Jen­nifer Car­son says it still re­ceives a lit­tle fund­ing for classes that have com­po­nents of lit­er­acy, nu­mer­acy or English as a sec­ond lan­guage.

‘‘The ma­jor­ity of the gen­eral classes now are self­sup­port­ing, so the prices had to go up a lit­tle bit to re­flect that. But we try to keep them as low as poss- ible to make them af­ford­able for the com­mu­nity,’’ she says.

Ms Car­son says that de­spite best ef­forts to keep the prices within reach she has seen a drop in en­rol­ment num­bers in the last few years.

‘‘I think some peo­ple thought that com­mu­nity ed­u­ca­tion had closed down be­cause there was so much pub­lic­ity around how the cuts were go­ing to kill com­mu­nity ed­u­ca­tion,’’ she says.

‘‘Peo­ple haven’t ac­tu­ally re­alised that some of us did man­age to sur­vive and are still bat­tling on.’’

West­ern Springs Com­mu­nity Ed­u­ca­tion does not re­ceive any fund­ing and is com­pletely user-pays, co­or­di­na­tor Brid­get Klu­bien says.

How­ever, she set up the cen­tre as a small busi­ness ven­ture in con­junc­tion with the school’s board of trustees to keep classes rea­son­ably priced.

‘‘But I get paid less money now, sig­nif­i­cantly less, than I did when we had fund­ing be­cause we lost $50,000, and we haven’t been able to re­coup that in stu­dent fees.’’

De­spite a large drop in en­rol­ments im­me­di­ately fol­low­ing the government cuts the num­bers are slowly start­ing to rise, Ms Klu­bien says.

‘‘Pub­lic­ity is a con­stant chal­lenge, be­cause it is really ex­pen­sive and of course if we paid a lot then the fees would rise, and then en­rol­ments would drop.’’

The pair say that their two cen­tres of­fer a va­ri­ety of cour­ses priced from $20 to about $100 and cater to peo­ple from 13 up­wards.

Classes range from sewing to pi­lates, from ab­stract paint­ing to an in­tro­duc­tion to busi­ness tax.

‘‘Peo­ple come for all sorts of rea­sons,’’ Ms Car­son says. ‘‘In terms of our gen­eral classes it can be just the so­cial side of do­ing some­thing, and that might be through a cook­ing class or a fit­ness class or some sort of hobby.’’

She says oth­ers take cour­ses as a taste-tester be­fore in­vest­ing in longterm ter­tiary study.

‘‘For some peo­ple its a step­ping stone into a ca­reer, or an op­por­tu­nity to ex­plore a ca­reer be­fore com­mit­ting a lot of money,’’ Ms Klu­bien says.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.