A southerly swept through new Zealand this afternoon which meant the curtains were ceremoniously pulled shut, the heaters flicked on and, even thought I was still shivering, something made my blood boil. It was a demand notice from my daughter's school. There was no mistaking it as a demand. My poor kid handed the envelope to me this afternoon, all frazzled and uptight: "This is serious Mum, real serious." Now I knew it was before she even said anything cause I usually get school notices months after the fact or they're found during one of those rare times I clean her room/
Not this one. This was hand delivered by a child who'd been told, in no uncertain terms, to hand this to me the minute she got home, and she knew what it was even though the contents had been tightly concealed with about a tonne of glue and three staples. And just in case there was any mistake, a bright red rubber stamp was thumped in the middle of this 'statement' saying THIS ACCOUNT IS NOW OVERDUE.
Account? It's a bloody donation! Says it, right there, under 'item.' Well, all I have to say is, at least they didn't add GST to this 'donation.' Look, I know schools are underfunded by Government and that if any of those endless chocolate bar fund raising schemes are anything to go by, they really do need to find another way to finance the education of New Zealand's children. So why not call it what it is - a bloody bill? Why stand under that glorious umbrella, skiting to the world that we, here in New Zealand, provide free education when, in fact, that's a big fat lie.
Now that my daughter is at Intermediate, (Middle school) she also has to choose options to study. It's a step up from Primary. An opportunity for kids to start experimenting with their individuality and, with any luck, find something that inspires them enough to see that subject through to a professional accreditation and become one of those tax payers we're all suppose to aspire towards.
But here's the catch. Not one of those options were free. They were additional costs to that wee donation we've already talked about. So what happens to the family struggling to pay the donation and then, what?, have to tell their kid they can't afford any of the subjects offered to other students? What happens to those children? Do they just get told to sit in some classroom with a book while others feed their passions? And how is that suppose to ensure these kids grow up to find careers as opposed to low paying jobs where they too, in the future, will sweat bricks over their own inability to finance even the basic educational costs for their kids? What a vicious circle.
What infuriates me is the imposition this puts on the kids. It goes without saying that the parents are stressed over this but what does that segregation, that financial discrimination, do a child's self esteem?
Now thanks to Mike on my Facebook (bless his cotton socks) he looked into this wee matter and came across the following "interesting facts:"
- Section 3 of the Education Act 1989 states that;
- ... every person who is not a foreign student is entitled to free enrolment and free education at any state school during the period beginning on the person's 5th birthday and ending on the 1st day of January after the person's 19th birthday.
- This means that parents do not have to pay for things such as the cost of tuition or materials used in the provision of the curriculum, the cost of heat, lighting or water, the cost of providing information about enrolling at the school, interviews when parents are seeking to enrol students at a school.
- The Government provides funding in the form of operational grants and supplementary grants to pay for the running of schools and the delivery of the curriculum, so schools may only charge parents for things that fall outside of the curriculum.
Well now that's interesting. Check out the curriculum because even the school camp can be covered albeit there may be an additional cost for food and transport, it's a lot less than that initial "fee," and for those who are struggling and might have to take their child out of the camp (or any other fee paying activity) the school must provide an "appropriate alternative."