MOST schools, either yesterday or today, will be back in play. Children will be heading to school with all the items dutifully purchased from their stationery list. They'll have their uniforms and their lunches. And, in the case of many secondary schools, they'll have their BYODs.
The concept of Bring Your Own Device, being a laptop or - more likely these days - a computer tablet like an iPad, is often raised when the discussion of "free" state education is brought up. In the manner of utopian New Zealand, children are supposed to receive a free education through primary and secondary schools.
Since I am a board of trustees member, I'm under no illusions that schools do not receive enough funding to meet this non-existent concept of a golden age utopian education system.
Every school does what it can to find resources. I would argue that far too much time is spent organising events - such as galas - and chasing grants, when education should remain the primary focus.
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But a huge resource for schools are parents. Parents invest big sums of money in their children. Kids cost money, there's nothing new about that. Some schools are fortunate enough to have parents taking on a front-line role in generating money, by forming PTA associations.
There seems to me to be little point in harping on about free education when we live in a country that has to be realistic about its small taxpayer base and the limited budget our Government has. For the most part, the Government puts its money into the necessaries - roads, health, education, earthquake relief, clean air and water, food on the table.
Schools - and the Government - know that parents will put their children first. They are already motivated to spend money on them at home, so it's only a short extension from that to ask them for money in school donations and equipment.
It has now become part of our culture that parents pay to bolster schools in their efforts to educate our children. The load is big, the cost is high, and it isn't going to work otherwise. Parents make "investment" decisions every day when it comes to their children's routine and activities. We have to be realistic: education contributions are just another "investment" on the list.