End of ed­u­ca­tion era

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

A 35-year chap­ter in Porirua’s ed­u­ca­tion his­tory ended last week with the clo­sure of Mana Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­tre.

The Canopies-based li­brary and re­source cen­tre shut its doors on Wed­nes­day af­ter a tough eco­nomic year.

Teach­ers and schools had lit­tle to spend on re­sources and train­ing; foot traf­fic took a dive when the neigh­bour­ing post of­fice moved; and the cen­tre had $100,000 of debt hang­ing around its neck, di­rec­tor An­gela Ryan said.

‘‘I’m per­son­ally very gutted,’’ she said.

‘‘Teach­ers used to do a huge amount of per­sonal spend­ing for their classrooms, but when times got tough they were no longer as will­ing to spend the big bucks.’’

The news was es­pe­cially wrench­ing af­ter the cen­tre, a char­ity, made its first-ever profit last year, Ms Ryan said.

‘‘ We re­ally saw our­selves start­ing to get the deficit back and mov­ing for­ward.’’

Teach­ers were in­creas­ingly turn­ing to the in­ter­net to get les­son ideas and re­sources, but they were miss­ing the ex­per­tise and ad­vice from three teach­ers on Mana Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­tre’s staff, Ms Ryan said.

Wellington’s near­est ed­u­ca­tion re­source cen­tre was now in Gis­borne. ‘‘They’re go­ing to re­ally miss it. Peo­ple never know what they’re miss­ing un­til they haven’t got it any longer.’’

Ms Ryan has or­gan­ised pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment for 10,000 teach­ers since 2008, but had to can­cel two-thirds of train­ing this year fol­low­ing poor reg­is­tra­tion num­bers.

Mana Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­tre be­gan in the 1970s as the Porirua East Re­source Cen­tre, a li­brary and teacher drop- in cen­tre be­hind Windley School.

In 1992, for­mer teacher Ms Ryan took over and ex­panded the cen­tre to serve all of Porirua and then all of Wellington.

The cen­tre moved to Whi­tireia grounds in 1994, then to Te Wananga O Aotearoa in 2005. Those moves got the cen­tre into its six-fig­ure debt, which it has not man­aged to clear.

They were ex­cit­ing times, how­ever – a par­tic­u­larly spe­cial mem­ory for Ms Ryan was see­ing the cen­tre’s Whi­tireia build­ing project man­aged by one of her for­mer stu­dents, a boy she taught at Maraeroa School.

Ms Ryan brought in­ter­na­tion­ally prom­i­nent ed­u­ca­tors to speak to teach­ers, set up a school care­tak­ers’ de­vel­op­ment group, and sup­ported Gate­way stu­dents to work in the shop.

In 2005, the cen­tre hit a rough spot when its over­see­ing body, Vic­to­ria Univer­sity, pulled its sup­port.

Ms Ryan was con­vinced by Busi­ness Porirua to make the cen­tre a char­i­ta­ble trust.

‘‘They said, ‘We can’t lose this. It’s bring­ing thou­sands of teach­ers to the city.’ ’’

To bol­ster busi­ness, the cen­tre be­gan event- man­ag­ing con­fer­ences and co-or­di­nat­ing the Mana and Wellington prin­ci­pals’ as­soci- ations. Ed­u­ca­tion was al­ways the pri­or­ity, how­ever.

‘‘I’ve re­ally loved work­ing with first-year teach­ers. Watch­ing the growth of th­ese young teach­ers, the fu­ture of our teach­ing pro­fes­sion, I’ve found re­ally ex­cit­ing.

‘‘Teach­ing is such a re­ward­ing pro­fes­sion. It’s un­der-rated. I get re­ally up­set that they’re not viewed as the pro­fes­sion­als they are.

‘‘The work they put in is so im­por­tant for kids. School is of­ten the one sta­ble thing in kids’ lives.’’


Good­bye: Mana Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­tre staff, from left: An­drea Skipage, Chris­tine Bruce, Su­san Arthur and An­gela Ryan.

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