National secretary of New Zealand Educational Institute Paul Goulter is claiming the TPPA is a major threat to New Zealand’s public education system.
Goulter says the NZEI Te Riu Roa is concerned about the Government’s silence over the potential dangers to the country’s public education system as a result of signing the TPPA.
The NZEI Te Riu Roa is a union organisation made up of 50,000 principals, teachers and support staff who work in primary, area and secondary schools as well as early childhood centres, special education and school advisory services.
Goulter says NZEI has written to Trade Minister, Todd McClay, to seek assurances that the government will take steps to protect education from global edu-businesses seeking to profit from the New Zealand taxpayer.
“The wording is ambiguous but the TPPA appears to open the door to allowing international corporations to establish schools or supply textbooks and other learning resources and then demand ‘level-playing field’ access to the public education purse,” he explains.
“Unlike Singapore, our Government did not carve education out of the deal,” he says.
Goulter says this is more concerning in light of another secret trade deal currently being negotiated.
“The Trade In Service Agreement (TISA) would restrict future governments' rights to regulate the quality and provision of education and protect unique aspects of New Zealand’s education system,” he explains.
“Together, these two deals would strike at the very foundations of our quality public education system and the outcome would be greater inequality for New Zealand children,” he says.
According to Goulter, NZEI is asking that the government’s current review of the Education Act specifically includes protections that ensure foreign corporations do not have free access to our annual $12.9 billion education budget.
“We need to ensure that the government reserves the right to retain education as a 'social service established for a public good' under the TPPA provisions,” he says.
“But so far, the Minister’s lack of response is cause for concern."
Techday has contacted the office of Trade Minister Todd McClay for comment.