Sunday, October 4, 2009

Lucia Education is free by law!

I had to laugh this morning, when I read the Sunday Star Times' Editorial, titled Charging for a free education has to stop. Apparently a number of schools has been illegally charging parents for their children's education.
Two dozen schools, 20 state and four integrated, have been caught since the beginining of 2008 charging for services that should legally be free. The Education Act is clear on the matter: state schooling is free until a child is 19. That's what free education means. State or state-integrated schools cannot make donations compulsory or charge parents for anything used to deliver the curriculum [...]

The law says state schooling is to be free yet some schools feel they must charge for schooling, presumably because the funding from the State is inadequete. Money doesn't just grow on trees - I'm sure that in the curriculum somewhere. Or if it isn't it should be.

But what I had a chuckle at this morning was the righteous position taken by the nameless editor over "free education". While the law says state schooling is to be free, the state takes money needed to run state education from the taxpayers. For teachers need to be paid, buildings need to be maintained and white board markers aren't donated, they are bought.

Apparently, New Zealand spends $10 billion* a year on state education.

Ten billion dollars does not make state education "free". Ten billion dollars makes state education in New Zealand incredibly expensive. For state eduction to be "free", everything would have to be donated. Teachers would donate their time, land would be given, buildings would be built and maintained out of the goodness of people's hearts (like habitat for humanity), and stationery suppliers would hand over stock as needed without requiring payment. In a sense, much like the old convent schools that the Catholic Church used to run with nuns donating their time for no pay.

Maybe the editor of the Sunday Star Times is thinking back to those days of old - if the Church could do it, why can't the State? Especially since the State has the power of the taxman behind it! But therein lies the problem.

You can't legislate schooling to be free and then make it compulsory and expect that all costs will be borne by taxpayers. Something's got to give. It's like legislating that the sky will be sunny on Wednesdays and getting all upset when the weather doesn't respect the law!

Hence, my amusement this morning.

* Ten billion dollars is the figure given by Trevor Mallard on NewsTalk ZB this year, after David Farrar had apparently erroneously, according to Trevor Mallard, posted a figure of Six billion dollars a year for eduction on KiwiBlog. As Trevor Mallard had been Minister for Education last year in the previous Labour Government, I'll take his word for it.

5 comment(s):

Ozy Mandias said...

In this life you pay for everything!!!

Sadly it is the same with education. I read the article that was on the SST and was surprised to see "Three schools were charging extra for enrolment in digital classrooms, where children work on laptops rather than using pens and paper."

I know of a number of schools that run these classes and the students have to pay for their own laptops. If the ministry decide that these classes are available to the masses it could make these a thing of the past.

Another interesting point was that "Yesterday it was revealed that schools raised more than $700 million in the community in the last year, with 150 of the country's schools raising $1m each."

In my opinion either the expectation from education and what it provides is too much or the governement need to start giving more cash to schools

ZenTiger said...

The government needs to maintain the fiction education is free.

Schools understand the reality of short funding, and filling the gaps through additional charges and fund raising.

Although, I suspect if more money was thrown at education, schools would still come up short.

The general rule for government is expenditure exceeds income by a minimum of 10%, especially following an increase in funding.

Oswald Bastable said...

Anything free is generally worth what you pay for it!

Ozy Mandias said...

You are right Zent Tiger. More money eans more money wasted on things that are not needed.

Francisco Castelo Branco said...

I think education free is important in every country in the world, and should be recognize and implement by the governments.

But not only this option. Private school´s should exist.
It´s a right of everybody to choose their school

In Portugal we can´t choose our public school. Only the privates.
It´s a serious problem.

It is a socialist appointment

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