An Auckland school has this week provided thousands of parents with a glimpse at the future of education – and it’s an expensive one.
This won’t come as a surprise to many – most parents will attest to the cost of putting their children through school, particularly with the ever-increasing price of uniforms and stationery materials.
However, what may raise a few eyebrows is Orewa College’s decision to place the latest model of Apple’s iPad on its “compulsory” stationery list for Year 9 students next year.
It’s hard to see the majority of Wanganui schools going the same way, at least in the short term.
Orewa College is a decile 9 school, so the school hierarchy probably had an expectation that many of their students’ parents would have been in a position to fork out the $799 to pay for an iPad.
What Orewa College’s move does is recognise the increasingly large role technology now plays in the lives of our young people. Not so much Generation X as they are Generation PlayStation, modern youth are not only comfortable but enthused with the likes of smartphones, laptop computers and other mobile devices.
It makes sense, then, to use their interest to help them learn.
Despite this, concerns raised by Labour Party education spokeswoman Sue Moroney are valid.
Ms Moroney is worried about the risk of a virtual two-tier education system being created, where low-income families are unable to provide their child with the technology needed for learning, in turn limiting their education.
Every child needs to have access to the tools required to help them learn, regardless of parental income.
Much like healthcare, quality education is a right, which should not be dependent on how much money mum or dad makes.
This is where Orewa needs to tread carefully.
The school has made a good start, by consulting with parents and offering up the school computers as alternatives for those who can’t afford an iPad.
But it does need to give some serious thought as to whether to proceed with this idea, if it is proven that only a small proportion of the school’s students have access to the required technology. It is likely that this is the way of the future – but possibly only when iPads and their ilk become as readily accessible for all students as paper and pens are now.