Clo­sures ‘like a death call’

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

Thirty Porirua teach­ers ‘‘ red­stick­ered’’ Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Hekia Parata’s elec­torate of­fice last Tues­day in a protest against the clo­sure of Christchurch schools.

Pro­test­ers waved flags and ban­ners and chanted ‘‘ Heck no, Hekia’’ to honks of ap­proval from pass­ing cars on Sem­ple St. Labour’s Mana MP Kris Faafoi and Christchurch East MP Lianne Dalziel were in at­ten­dance.

Ms Parata an­nounced on Fe­bru­ary 18 that seven Christchurch schools would close due to un­safe build­ings and fall­ing rolls across the city.

Twelve schools were to merge and five new schools would be opened.

The tim­ing of the an­nounce­ment, four days be­fore the sec­ond an­niver­sary of the earth­quake, was in­sen­si­tive, said Dianne Khan, a former teacher and head of ac­tivist move­ment Save Our Schools.

‘‘Do­ing it the week of the sec­ond an­niver­sary of the earth­quake is be­yond be­lief.’’

There was no need to close many of the schools or build new ones – teach­ers did not re­quire fancy build­ings to do a good job, Mrs Khan said.

‘‘We don’t need a good build­ing to teach well. I could teach on a beach, in a pad­dock.’’

Some of Christchurch’s five new schools were likely to be char­ter schools, Mrs Khan said.

‘‘It’s an un­der­handed way for [the Government] to bring in char­ter schools. This really is rot­ten to the core.’’

Glen­view School teacher Tu­faina Faraimo said hear­ing the list of clos­ing schools was like get­ting a kick in the guts. ‘‘It just felt like a death call. ‘‘It was like we were be­ing hit in the guts.

‘‘And you could imag­ine how dev­as­tat­ing it would be for those schools.’’

Christchurch teach­ers, par­ents and chil­dren have hardly had time to re­cover from the earth­quake, let alone a dras­tic over­haul of their school sys­tem, Mrs Faraimo said.

The Ed­u­ca­tion Min­istry han­dled the an­nounce­ment badly, she said. ‘‘They said they care for peo­ple but it doesn’t look like that, it doesn’t feel like that.’’

Heck no, Hekia: Porirua boy Monty Khan, 4, joined his teacher ac­tivist mother Dianne Khan in a ‘‘red sticker’’ protest out­side Hekia Parata’s elec­torate of­fice last Tues­day.

Sol­i­dar­ity: Christchurch East MP Lianne Dalziel joined 30 Porirua teach­ers out­side Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Hekia Parata’s of­fice last Tues­day in a protest against Christchurch school clo­sures.

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