Disadvantaged Families Left Struggling as Cost of Education Skyrockets
18 January 2017 at 10:44 am
A national children’s education charity is calling for urgent support for some of Australia’s most disadvantaged families struggling with the basic costs of their child’s schooling, as new research shows the cost of education has skyrocketed over the last decade.
According to The Smith Family thousands of children are set to start the new school year without education essentials.
The Smith Family CEO Dr Lisa O’Brien said the organisation was experiencing an “influx of calls” as parents grapple with the reality of sending their children to school without the basic educational resources.
“The truth is the costs of a child’s educational essentials are out of reach for many disadvantaged families,” O’Brien said.
“When a child doesn’t have even the basics they need for school they can feel different and isolated. The consequences can be serious – becoming disengaged over time and at risk of dropping out of school early or altogether.
“And that’s a real concern because we know that education is a pathway out of poverty.”
It comes as the ASG Planning for Education Index, released on Tuesday, revealed the cost of a government education has climbed by 25 per cent over the past 10 years to $68,613.
The index, based on more than 12,500 responses, calculated a range of variables including school fees, transport, uniforms, computers, school excursions and sporting trips to determine the cost of education.
The data showed Melbourne was the most expensive city in Australia to educate a child in a government school with a forecast cost of $77,371, 13 per cent above the national metropolitan average and more expensive than Sydney ($75,080) and Brisbane ($60,135).
The cost of a private education has also skyrocketed by 64 per cent in the past decade.
For a child born in 2017 the estimated cost of a private education across metropolitan Australia is $487,0931, a jump of $190,820 compared to a child born in 2007 ($296,273).
Meanwhile, the estimated cost of a systemic education, which includes religious schools such as Catholic, Anglican, Uniting Church, Buddhist, Islamic or Hindu, has soared by 57 per cent to $239,672 over the same period .
ASG CEO John Velegrinis said the cost of education had risen at two and a half times the rate of inflation over the past decade.
“Our research predicts the cost of education will increase, irrespective of whether you send your child to a government, systemic or private school,” Velegrinis said.
“The estimated cost of a government education across metropolitan Australia has jumped $13,587 in the past decade.
“That is why we encourage parents to start planning for education as early as possible, even from the moment their child is born.”
Velegrinis said Australians were fortunate to have excellent government, systemic and private schools to choose from, but costs could spiral out of control.
“If you have three children, the cost of educating them in Sydney or Melbourne’s private education system could top $1.6 million,” he said.
“That’s significantly more than the purchase price of the average family home.
“We advocate parents use a disciplined approach by putting a little bit away each week so they can financially afford to meet their children’s educational goals and aspirations.”
Independent statistician and managing director of foreseechange Charlie Nelson said a range of economic factors influenced the cost of education.
“Employment growth, hourly wages and inflation all impact the cost of living, which puts extra strain on the family budget,” Nelson said.
“With school fees likely to rise further, it has never been more important for parents to financially plan for their child’s future.”
Meanwhile, The Smith Family, the largest charity providing educational sponsorships for disadvantaged Australian children, said it was urgently seeking 6,000 new sponsors to sign up to the Learning for Life program.
“If we want to prevent disadvantaged children from the lifelong effects of hardship, the best thing we can do is to support them to succeed at school and complete their education,” O’Brien said.
“Many people associate child sponsorship with third-world aid, but the reality is there are 1.1 million children and young people living in poverty right here in Australia.
“We are talking about Australian children who are growing up in low or no-income homes where affording life’s basics is a daily struggle. These children are likely to live in single parent homes and their families may also be dealing with the challenges of long-term illness, disability, limited education or unemployment.
“Too often these family struggles that affect a child’s home life, can flow on to affect their school life too.”
The charity currently supports 33,000 disadvantaged children through the program but aims to support another 24,000 students by 2020.
“Our data shows that our approach – intervening early and providing long-term educational support for very disadvantaged young people – is working,” O’Brien said.