Fees for “free” public schooling

Today we visited the schools and signed up the children for class commencing on Monday morning. Fanny, 14, will start in grade 8, Johanna, 11, in grade 5, and Joel, 6, in prep, missing first class with 12 days on the wrong side of the deadline birth date. We then started to do the essential shopping for atrociously expensive school uniforms, books, and stationary. For being a public school, just starting up our eldest cost 460 AUD. Another 500 AUD for the school uniform and 130 AUD for some books and stationary and we are not done yet. We need shoes, stockings, more books, and white shirts. And that’s one child.

You might get the impression that I am obsessed with prices or am extremely greedy. But it has more to do with what I think about equity and children’s equal rights. I have to admire Sweden for its equity policies. How on earth is a single parent or unemployed or sick parents supposed to pay for all this? I am not saying uniforms are bad though. Maybe it’s even worse not to be able to afford the clothes your child wants to have, must have at school, because all cool kids do. The point is – introducing fees will create inequalities.

Something unusual for us is that there is no such a thing as school lunch. So from the very beginning it is going to be an issue of family background – especially parents’ education – what kind of food children take with them and eat every day at school. To think of something healthy, nutritious, affordable, and varied every day, prepare it, and remind the child to take it with them to school – can you see how many chances there are for this to fail? So besides the equity implications of this I am also personally getting all worked up, while Robert, who will be the one responsible, sees no problem. I do. And it’s not only lunch, school’s from 8.45-15.30. No “mellanmål” unless we provide that too. I’ll go ruminate on that for a while.

2 thoughts on “Fees for “free” public schooling

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