New Zealand's Free State Education Actually Costs Parents Thousands

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By Reissa Su | January 24, 2014 1:30 PM EST

New Zealand's "free" education system will actually cost  the average parent thousands of dollars. A survey claims that parents will have to pay almost NZ$35,000 by the time their child completes secondary school. 

REUTERS/NIGEL MARPLE
New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key smiles after the general election in Auckland November 26, 2011. REUTERS/NIGEL MARPLE

Over 1,000 parents who are members of New Zealand's ASG Programs were asked to calculate the total cost of school fees, uniforms, transport, computers and school-related trips as part of the survey. It was estimated that about 15,600 families in New Zealand have enrolled in ASG programs which are designed to cover education expenses.

According to the projections of ASG, New Zealand parents will need to pay $16,000 for every child who will enter the eight-year primary school state education in 2014. For a child who will begin secondary school, parents will need to shell out more than $18,000.

ASG Chief Executive John Velegrinis said that in the past, people have always thought a free education system means the government pays for the costs. However, parents should also consider the amount of money they spend for every school-related expense over the years.

Mr Velegrinis said education costs have increased by one-and-a-half times the inflation rate in the past 10 years. He believes this may unlikely change in the future as educational costs are changing at a faster rate compared to the cost of goods and services.

The true cost of "free" education in New Zealand may shock parents, but private education will cost 7 roughly seven times more. According to ASG, private education can cost $262,310.

Based on statistics, New Zealand is cheaper than Australia where education will cost twice as much. ASG advised parents to plan ahead given the costs of state education.

Mr Velegrinis said the measures announced by the government to boost the education system appeared to be positive. He agrees with the belief that quality teachers are major factors in having a great education.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key announced a $359 million education policy, including the creation of new teaching and leadership roles in all schools.

Despite the reality of state education costs, Mr Velegrinis remarked that if New Zealand will adopt a "strictly free" education policy, children might not have the same quality of education they need.

Schools in New Zealand use different models in generating voluntary donations as additional resources. Mr Velegrinis believes there is no absolutely free education anywhere in the world. When New Zealand is compared with other countries, it ranks "pretty well."

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(Photo: REUTERS/NIGEL MARPLE / )
New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key smiles after the general election in Auckland November 26, 2011. REUTERS/NIGEL MARPLE
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