'Free' education costing parents $54m more than last year
Saturday, 1 September 2007

Parents are continuing to subsidise their children's "free" education, paying over $50 million more than last year to provide teachers and computer equipment for schools.

The figure ? money from parent donations and school fundraisers ? is a 30 per cent rise to help pay for primary and secondary schools, The New Zealand Herald reported today.

Much of the money was raised at fairs, auctions and gala balls and then funnelled into running sports and music programmes after school, building "extras" such as shade areas, or on scholarships.

The head of the School Trustees Association criticised the increase, saying parents were subsidising something that was supposedly their right.

The Ministry of Education said yesterday that the proportion of parent donations had remained largely steady since 2001 at around 10 per cent of schools' total revenue.

A spokesman said the ministry did not know why the actual figure collected rose so much in a year, as schools issued their "donation demands" to parents without direction from the Government.

Government grants, including teachers' salaries and operations funding, totalled $3.9 billion last year.

Parents gave $155 million in contributions, usually called fees ? a $40 million increase from 2005.

Through fundraising, parents and others in school communities paid $80 million last year ? up from a little more than $65 million the previous year.

School Trustees Association president Lorraine Kerr said parents had traditionally raised money for the "nice to haves", but were now helping to buy necessities.

"I think it's pretty poor that parents have to dig deep to subsidise what is supposedly their right."

Ms Kerr said the Government had spent about $60 million on information and communication technologies in schools.

"But we also know that parents have had to raise another $170 million to top that up."

- NZPA

From here