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Risks Outweigh Benefits Of Ppps In Education

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The government's own business case is not strong enough to support private public partnerships in education and there is too much risk for too little gain, says the education sector union NZEI Te Riu Roa.

PPP schools involve private operators financing, building and maintaining new schools for 25-35 years. Documents obtained under the Official Information Act show international and Australian contractors have been consulted by the government to develop a Stage 1 business case, while educators and the public have been excluded.

The papers also show that private operators would only be interested in contracts of at least $100 million which would involve the construction of a significant number of schools.

NZEI President Ian Leckie says that is putting a lot at stake on what is an untried and untested model and one which the documents say would bring only minimal returns for the investment over a long term contract period.

The government also appears to be looking at a PPP model where contractors are able to rent out buildings after schools hours.

"That is completely incompatible with the culture of New Zealand schools and communities which want and expect 24-7 access to school buildings and facilities, as well as the ability to control what happens in them," says Mr Leckie.

As more information becomes available it is clear the government drive to use private contractors to build and maintain new schools is more about ideology than sound business sense. It is expected to receive a Stage 2 business case for PPPs in education later this year, on which it will base its final decision.

"I hope it has the courage to do what's best for schools and communities, rather than acting for corporate interest," says Mr Leckie.

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