Q: What do you get when you cross a race-based party and a government education system?
A: You get headlines like this one: ‘Give Maori Free Access To Uni’
It would be nice to think that racism was dead in New Zealand. But it’s not. It’s alive and well and thriving in Pita Sharples’ proposal for preferential entry to university for unqualified Maori entrants.
The “affirmative action” system admitting under-qualified Maori has been so “successful” – and only an entity occupying a race-based seat could call lowering standards based on race a success – that this numb nut wants to have it extended to Maori with no qualifications at all.
Dr Sharples, who is also Associate Education Minister, said allocating Maori places regardless of their qualifications would boost Maori participation at higher levels of study.
Well, yes it will. It will but it will hardly earn them greater respect if they fail when they get there, or are coddled through their courses – and it will hardly endow them with respect for their courses or for their own learning.
It will not raise the educational standards of Maori; it will only lower educational standards for everyone.
Now it’s true that students can enter university and succeed without any substantive secondary success – I know this because I know students who have. But this says more about the already appallingly low standard of New Zealand’s secondary and tertiary courses (there’s too little real learning being delivered at secondary level, and too few courses at tertiary level that truly necessitate it), and a lot about the courses these students choose. It’s possible for example to achieve a Bachelor of Arts or Education without any original thinking and any prior learning (that is to say, a Bugger All or a Bed, neither of which are worth much more than the paper on which the degrees are printed).
In fact in most of the humanities faculties a working brain is a positive disadvantage. But there other areas of learning where a student does need to have prior success and previous learning on which to build. Engineering and medicine are just two. It’s all but impossible to achieve a genuine medical degree or Bachelor of Engineering without some real hard graft, and genuine prior knowledge – impossible, that is, without the preferential coddling of students on the basis of race.
And as Thomas Sowell writes, "The dirty little secret about affirmative action is that it doesn't work."
An even dirtier secret is that virtually no one really cares whether or not affirmative action works to advance minorities or women.
It works politically to put its supporters on the side of the angels. It works for ethnic or feminist "leaders" as a rallying cry to mobilize support. For the mushy minded, it works to make them feel morally one-up.
And for politicians, it helps them get a headline. So that worked well then.