New Zealand’s ‘free education’ is back in the spotlight, with the Labour Party hitting out at fees for school enrolment ballots for out-of-zone students.
Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says charging parents to enter their kids in school enrolment ballots is unfair and further undermines the principle of a free school education.
“The whole point of out-of-zone ballots is to ensure that extra places in those schools are allocated fairly,” Hipkins says.
“By introducing a fee, the schools are saying that a parent’s ability to pay will have an impact on the type of education their child will receive. That's just not right,” he says.
“Schooling in New Zealand is supposed to be free. That's what the law says,” says Hipkins.
“It shouldn't matter where you live or how much your parents earn, every Kiwi kid is entitled to the best shot at success through a great education.”
Hipkins says schools are finding creative ways to get around the law because they're struggling to make ends meet.
“With over 41% of schools reporting financial deficits, it's no wonder they are trying to find new ways to increase their revenue,” Hipkins explains.
“There is no question the financial pressures parents are facing for their kids’ education have increased hugely in the past few years,” he says.
“This includes demands to pay school donations, buy electronic devices like laptops and iPads, and pay for school uniforms.
“Labour has been very clear that we will address the school funding shortfall so that New Zealanders’ right to a free schooling is restored,” adds Hipkins.