7 February 2011
Challenge has been forced to close its alternative education centre due to an ongoing lack of ‘realistic’ Ministry of Education funding.
A smaller amount of money provided by Trusts during the current recession has added to the toll.
Since Challenge College opened in the year 2000 Challenge has carried the financial loss for this critically important service. But, despite ongoing fundraising efforts and creativity around making ends meet, the organisation continued to lose around $80,000 annually.
Outgoing director Kitty McKinley and principal Gerard Tully say the closure is particularly hard because the 10 students had done extremely well in achieving NCEA credits in 2010 ‘and succeeding in all sorts of outstanding ways’.
For example, the students hosted a production of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, organised a ‘Keep New Zealand Clean’ term project and provided a focus group for youth development programmes.
In the decade of the college’s existence, 140 young people have benefited from the programme.
Challenge is concerned for young people alienated from mainstream education.
‘We know too well the path that uneducated young New Zealanders generally take. It seems far more logical to spend money on youth in the community than to face the inevitably higher costs of the ongoing growth of the prison industry.’
Challenge is hoping that some benefactor will emerge with funding to allow the college to re-open sometime in the future.
Image: Former Challenge College principal Gerard Tully