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The growing cost of a free education

The growing cost of a free education

While the Ministry of Education has baled out 5% of schools, parents and communities are left to bale out the other 95%, says National’s Education spokesman, Bill English.

In the past four years the Ministry has baled out 100 schools at a cost of almost $6 million.

The School Sector Report shows that between 1999 and 2003 the amount of funds raised locally increased by more than 50%, from $301 to $452 per pupil. It also shows that local funds make up a growing percentage of total school revenue, reaching an average of 10% in primary schools last year.

Between 1999 and 2003, school donations increased by a staggering 97%, and fundraising by 41%. Parental contributions increased by almost $20 million between 2002 and 2003 alone.

“Gone are the days of raising funds to send the First XV overseas – nowadays, parents are fundraising for basic requirements, and even for teachers’ salaries,” says Mr English.

Last year, the salaries of 3355 teachers were paid from outside the central staffing formula.

Mr English says that under Labour every family is paying more for a free education, despite record Government surpluses.

“The reality is, the Government funds only part of the cost of running schools, even in poorer areas. Auckland’s Mt Roskill Grammar – a decile 4 school – was left to raise more than $1.2 million last year,” he says.

“In 1996, Helen Clark said ‘we know that there is a large gap opening up between the schools which have the capacity to fundraise and the schools which don’t’. But despite a record surplus, her Government has let that gap widen.

“It’s great that mums and dads are willing to dig deep for their kids’ education, but we now have a situation where schools rely on this generosity to the point where, in some cases, debt-collectors are called in if the money isn’t forthcoming,” says Mr English

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