Night school co-ordinators fear the loss of tens of millions of dollars in Government funding will spell the end of community adult education.
Following cuts announced in last week's Budget, regional supervisors around the country are holding emergency meetings on Thursday to discuss whether the community programmes have a future.
The principal of the Adult Community Education Centre at Wellington High School, Prue Kelly, says the sector is in a tailspin as the implication of the cuts sink in.
The centre provides courses for 6,000 people every year, she says, and is looking at how this can be continued.
One Christchurch organisation, Risingholme, which has run community programmes since 1944, fears it may have to close.
Some co-ordinators say Finance Minister Bill English is guilty of hypocrisy, because when he was in Opposition he praised night classes for helping people who want to develop their skills.