​Labour outcry as overseas investor funds school’s $100K digital devices

“If parents at a decile 10 school can’t afford digital devices for their kids, how can those at other schools be expected to?"

The Government must address the inequality laptops and tablets in classrooms are causing after a Queenstown school was forced to use a donation from an overseas investor to get their students digital devices.

Documents obtained by the Labour Party show the decile 10 Wakatipu High School used a $100,000 donation after identifying up to 30 percent of its students’ parents would need assistance to purchase digital devices.

According to the opposition, the college also used $30,000 of the donation to train its teachers in e-learning.

“The donation was made through Glenorchy Homestead by an overseas investor and was approved by the Overseas Investment Office as part of a purchase of sensitive land in Arrowtown,” says Chris Hipkins, Labour Education spokesperson.

“If parents at a decile 10 school can’t afford digital devices for their kids, how can those at other schools be expected to?

“The Government was advised by its own taskforce in 2014 that it needed to set up an equity fund to ensure Bring Your Own Device to school policies don’t cause low income children to fall behind.

“However National simply ignored the recommendation and has continued to turn a blind eye to the growing digital divide.”

According to Hipkins, the Government is “completely out of touch” with the pressure families are under when it comes to their kids’ schooling.

“Even middle income families are feeling the squeeze because National has under-funded education,” Hipkins adds.

“School kids shouldn’t have to rely on overseas investors to ensure they get their fair shot at education. The law guarantees every Kiwi kid a free schooling, and that’s what the Government has a responsibility to fund.”

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