Hundreds protest Christchurch school closures

11:16, Sep 19 2012
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ANGER: Hundreds of people have protested in Christchurch tonight.

Hundreds of people have tonight protested against the lack of consultation over the closures, mergers and relocation of a number of Christchurch schools.

The Government last week announced an education plan grouping all 214 schools in the region into 41 learning community "clusters", with 13 schools marked for closure, 18 likely to merge, and seven to relocate.

Education Minister Hekia Parata has said the overhaul was a consequence of the earthquakes, which saw 4500 students leave the district, and schools damaged.

One of about 500 protesters at the Bridge of Remembrance, Sandra Spekreijse, who was representing the NZEI teachers' union, questioned whether the closures were about children and education.

It felt it more about "saving money", she said.

"Haven't our kids suffered enough, why should they be exposed to more reform," she said.

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"Our kids are not guinea pigs."

Spekreijse called for more public consultation.

Parata’s announcement was not the only focus of the protester's anger. A decision to keep government-appointed commissioners in place to run Environment Canterbury until 2016 has also provoked discontent .

This decision, along with the shift of power from the Christchurch City Council to the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, was seen as evidence that Christchurch was being run by bureaucrats in Wellington, not by the people on the ground in the city, organisers of the Suffrage Day protest rally said.

The Press