A good start

1563 schools will not ask parents for donations come the new year, with a $150 dollar payment from the government per pupil coming in instead.

An excellent decision. Schools from decile one to seven have seen about a 90% adoption rate of the scheme, meaning the lowest-income families will be the ones that no longer have to pay the “optional” school donations. Education in general, but especially outside of the classroom education (which donations tend to cover) should not be something only for the wealthy.

That said, while a step in the right direction, there are still flaws to iron out. Decile eight to ten schools are not allowed to opt into the scheme, as those schools are generally from higher-income areas – but as National education spokesperson Nikki Kaye pointed out, there are still going to be lower-income kids that miss out:

“They have designed a very unfair system and as a result of this there is a group of disadvantaged kids that will miss out,” Kaye said.

“They went to the election and said they were going to offer this to every school in New Zealand and they haven’t done that.”

I don’t think universally getting rid of donations is the answer – there are plenty of rich folks out there that can afford it. But the decile 8 cut off should not be a hard cut off – from there, schools and the government should try and take it on a pupil by pupil basis, where parents that may not have the money to pay the donations can apply to have their child added to the scheme.

The case by case basis should also apply for schools – for instance, Lynmore School is the sole school in Rotorua that is not eligible to apply for the new system – something which is obviously going to hurt them a lot.

All in all however, this is a great step forward by the government.

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