New Zealand parents to pay for “free” education

Parents will be paying a lot of money for their children to take part in New Zealand's "free" educational system. By the time a child completes secondary school, parents will have paid almost NZ$35,000 (US$30,000). This comes as a shock to many parents who believe the island nation's "free" education system meant the government would be footing the bill.

According to Australian Scholarships Group (ASG) projections, New Zealand parents will need to pay NZ$16,000 for every child who enters the eight-year primary school state educational system in 2014. This cost includes fees, uniforms, transportation, computers and school-related trips. About 15,600 families in New Zealand are enrolled in ASG programs, which are designed to help cover education expenses.

"In the past, people have always thought a free education system means the government pays for the costs," says ASG Chief Executive John Velegrinis. "However, the amount of money spent by parents for every school-related expense over the years should be considered. Additionally, in the past 10 years, education costs have increased by one-and-a-half times the inflation rate."

Parents may be shocked by the cost of "free" education in New Zealand, but private education will cost roughly seven times more. Private education can cost $262,310 over the course of a child's public education career, according to ASG. New Zealand private schools are cheaper than in Australia, where a private school education costs roughly twice as much. The ASG advises parents to plan ahead.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key recently announced a new $359 million education policy, which includes the creation of new teaching and leadership roles in all schools. Mr. Velegrinis remarked that if New Zealand adopts a "strictly free" education policy, children might not have the quality of education they need because of high educational costs.


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