Community education: stories and how to protest

Last night I got some more details on the ways in which people are protesting against the night class cuts. At my local high school there is a petition asking for the reinstatement of night classes (though they often extend beyond just nights). If you drop into the reception of your local high school, I expect you will find a petition there to sign. I've also got a postcard to send in in protest and I've found out about the Stop Night Class Cuts website. I've joined the facebook group protesting the cuts and I'll be writing to my MP also.

I've seen figures of 200 000 people doing night classes each year and also 400 000 people. Despite the huge discrepancy, it is still clear that they are used and valued in each adn aevery community within New Zealand.

In my last post I wrote about working class lives a little before jumping on to the community education slaughter. They are linked. I remember my Mum going to night classes from when I was quite small. Just as I have done, she went to sewing classes periodically - it gave her a chance to get projects finished when small children at home during the day made it otherwise difficult. Mum used to identify things in our home which needed fixing or developing and enrol in a night class to help her achieve this. She went to one class to reupholster the dining room chairs. She made a good job and we still sit on those chairs when we visit her and Dad 25 years later. We moved house when I was eight and the new place was larger, needing more furniture. Mum and Dad bought two chairs at a garage sale, known forever as the $2 chair and the $3 chair. Somewhere she also bought an old glory box, or perhaps Grandma passed it on to her. Mum went to another night class to learn to upholster the $3 chair, which henceforth looked rather flash and also covered the glory box in the same fabric. The glory box, now the toy chest, is still in their lounge now, and contains many of our old toys and games, now pullewd out each visit by my children.

Mum trained as a secretary in the 1960s and had her three children in the 1970s. In the 1980s, computers changed the face of her kind of job. Mum attended many night clases in computing skills and gained certificates in various Microsoft applications. When we got older and she moved back into the paid workforce, this effort paid off. Later on when they moved to a very small village, she took her turn and taught night classes in computers. She decided that it was time Dad learnt a bit about computers and signed him up for her class! I still have, in my email archives, an email he sent me soon after his lessons.

Those previously essential working class skills of using knitting and sewing to clothe a family? Seen as so very old fashioned, now we can exploit cheap Chinese labour for Warehouse clothes that fall apart before they can wear out, it is nevertheless a valuable skill to have and a means of being less dependent on sweated labour in order to keep warm. A friend of mine here in smallwettown has attended every session of the high school night sewing class last year and this. She is on the DPB and manages to make all her clothes and her son's clothes now, with the help of careful op shop sourcing of fabric and refashioning of garments. She found the money for the $40 sub per term charged at the high school. That class will soon run offsite with no subsidy and is going to cost twice the current fee, making it inaccessible for my friend.

Lifelong learning benefits ALL of our community. A one hundred year tradition down the drain while the government pours extra money into private schools?

We've got to fight this one until the government understands that it does not have the mandate of it's electorate to abandon this highly effective use of the taxes we all pay.


Sharonnz said…
Good article in the Weekend Dom about this:
Cheers for the link Sharon. All those stories and it is so easy to find more like that amongst friends, family, acquaintances, anyone I speak to about this.

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