WelCom April 2020:
2020 Election Year: Catholic Education
Paul Ferris, Chief Executive, New Zealand Catholic Education Office
Integration was introduced in 1975 and while the legislation describes a binding agreement between the State and the Church it seems that the memory of many involved in education needs to be continually refreshed so that the tenets of the agreement made 40 years ago are not lost. When Integration was agreed in 1975, it was preceded by a set of principles that defined how we would retain our Special Character but become part of the State network of schools.
Over the years people have not always understood the fundamentals of our agreement with government and so the New Zealand Catholic Education Office (NZCEO) has to remind them of the principles that form the Integration Agreements. Millennials, who populate the halls of power today, often have a limited appreciation of the two-party agreement made so long ago because it is not part of their experience.
The 2020 election provides us with an opportunity to see if politicians remember the basis of our Integration Agreement. The promise of a partnership which adopted us as full partners within the State system is often diminished in its interpretation of policy today. People assume they understand what the 1975 Private School Conditional Integration Act says and make assumptions in policy that preclude us from participating in the full benefit of being a State Integrated School.
A Māori world view says: ‘Ko ngā tahu o tapuwae inanahi. Hei tauira ora mo Apopo’. ‘The footprints that we lay down in our past create the paving stones of where we stand today.’ It is our past that is in front of us as we make progress today. We stand with our backs to the future.
“The 2020 election calls on us to stand with our backs to the future and gives us the opportunity to remind politicians what we agreed to in 1975.”
The 2020 election calls on us to stand with our backs to the future and gives us the opportunity to remind politicians what we agreed to in 1975. It is our chance as Catholics to ensure that our human right to a have a faith-based education is respected and honoured now and in the future.
What should parents, grandparents and ex-pupils do as voters in 2020? Ask the candidates what they understand Integration means for our schools. See if the candidates appreciate that Catholic schools are part of the State network in every way except for our Special Character. Ask the candidates why the Government chose not to fund the maintenance of faith-based schools in the December 1 announcement last year when they had agreed to fund us as if we were a similar State school. Does failing to fund children whose parents chose a faith-based education amount to a breach of human rights based on religious belief?
Ngā mihi nui.
APIS (Association of Proprietors of Integrated Schools) continues to work with the Ministry of Education to clarify the basis of the decision to exclude faith-based schools from the maintenance package announced in December 2019. We have spent some time understanding each others’ positions and are looking to find a way that provides an equivalent package for Integrated schools. No agreement is in place at this time.