Schools are urged to be mindful that they cannot by law charge for delivering the curriculum, including requiring students to bring in electronic devices.
With digital technology now officially on the New Zealand Curriculum, it has become the norm for schools to encourage families to buy computers for their children to use as part of a BYOD policy. Many schools include the device on the list of required stationery. But, says the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), schools cannot by law charge for delivering the official curriculum, and already overstretched families face the dilemma of either taking on significantly more debt to fund the purchase or seeing their children disadvantaged at school.
A basic device may cost several hundred dollars, while a higher quality one can cost well over $1,000. On top of this, parents may need to buy accessories and additional insurance.
“Time payments for such purchases may end up costing more in the long run through high interest rates. Many families turn to short-term loan providers to ensure their children are as adequately equipped as their peers, resulting in ongoing, increased weekly costs,” says CPAG’s education spokesperson Professor John O’Neill,
“The Ministry of Education (MoE) and Education Review Office (ERO) have a role to play. MoE needs to advise Government on the funding levels that schools require to meet all the costs of curriculum delivery, including digital technology. ERO needs to ensure schools follow the law in terms of charging fees and requesting donations, and in being reasonable in their expectations of how much overstretched families will contribute to meeting the cost of a 21st century learning experience for children.
“Introducing digital technology into the curriculum is a good thing. Expecting schools to include these in a stationery pack and pushing families further into a spiral of debt is not.”