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Schools Deny Leaving Certs. Because of Unpaid Fees

Rural Women New Zealand Media Release:

Schools Deny Leaving Certificates Because of Unpaid Fees

6 December 2002

For immediate release

A survey by Rural Women New Zealand has revealed that some state secondary schools are penalising students if their families do not pay school 'fees'.

In some instances students have been denied leaving certificates. Others have not been issued with their school reports or have had their names read out at assemblies.

This news comes on a day when thousands of secondary school students are finishing school for the year.

The survey was conducted by Rural Women New Zealand after it came to the organisation's attention that some parents were unaware that state schools are not permitted to charge fees for enrolment under the Education Act (1989). Schools may not demand a fee to cover the cost of either tuition or materials used in the provision of the curriculum.

Schools are, however, permitted to ask for voluntary donations. The majority (74%) of those who replied to the survey said that their school gave parents a reason for the charges, and made it clear that it was a voluntary donation. Almost all schools (96%) issued a receipt for donations, but only half informed parents that they could claim a tax rebate on the donation.

There was a good response rate to the survey, with 137 being returned from the 300 sent out to Rural Women New Zealand groups around the country. It found that on average schools charged between $20 - $50 per pupil, per year. 29% said that their school did not charge any fees. 12% said that their school penalised for non-payment, and all of these schools were state secondary schools.

Rural Women New Zealand Education Convenor, Jacky Stafford, said that while most schools were operating within the Ministry of Education guidelines regarding school donations, it was very disturbing that some secondary schools were not. ''It is particularly disturbing to hear that they are directly penalising the students. The Ministry of Education guidelines state very clearly that at no time should a student be embarrassed if their parents are unable to pay the school donation,'' she said.

Any parents who were worried about their child being penalised should take the matter up with the school Principal or Board of Trustees, says Mrs Stafford.


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