Ahead of Tasmania’s state election next month, the Labor Party has promised it will get rid of public school fees if voted into office.
“Public education is a right, and financial barriers should not stop our children from getting the best start in life,” said Labor leader Rebecca White while announcing the policy as quoted by ABC News.
Families must currently fork out around AUD600 (US$475) for school fees each year at public schools – on top of extra expenses like uniforms, excursions and other associated educational costs.
If elected, Labor will introduce fee-free tuition in Tasmania from the first term of 2019. The policy is estimated to cost the government around AUD24 million (US$19 million) a year.
“We think this is a fundamental principle and a right for every student to be able to access public education and to get a top quality education,” White said.
Labor will waive school fees for all Tasmanian public school students from kinder to grade 12, helping 40,000 children access genuinely free public education. It’s an investment in our future #politas #tasvotes pic.twitter.com/JYTaQHeTya
— Rebecca White (@bec_white) February 19, 2018
“Providing free public education for students right across Tasmania from kindergarten through to grade 12 will enable all parents to get their children to school without any of those financial barriers.”
With a population of just 515,000 people, Tasmania is often the lowest performing Australian state in terms of most socioeconomic indicators. It generally suffers from low incomes, high unemployment and lower levels of education than larger states on the Australian mainland.
White also promised that her government would provide free publicly-funded buses to all students to attend their local public school, further easing the financial burden on parents.
“The cost of education has been steadily increasing, and is now a significant burden on Tasmanian families,” she said.