Parents of children at government schools may face additional fees for internet access from next year.
With the roll-out of NBN broadband, parents are being warned about possible extra fees to cover the rising cost.
The president of the Victorian Association of State School Principals, Frank Sal, said the Education Department was reviewing its policy to provide free internet access to schools. He said parents could end up paying for their children’s internet use from next year.
“Internet usage is growing, therefore costs are increasing, and for the last four to five years the Education Department has been picking up the cost of this. The department may not be able to fund this any more, which may result in limited internet access or those costs may be given to the schools.”
“What makes it difficult for schools is an increase in internet usage and a funds decrease, which is difficult for schools to deal with,” he said.
“I feel there will need to be user payments if government schools want to remain competitive.”
Parents Victoria executive officer Gail McHardy said parents are already feeling the squeeze of previous cuts and she was concerned how parents would cope with further costs.
“With more of a demand on ICT equipment, it certainly is going to be a big demand for schools,” she said.
“It’s not going to be fair for those families who won’t be able to afford it.”
Ms McHardy said tools have changed from pen and paper to a heavy reliance on computers, and she questioned how teaching will happen in the future without adequate access to the internet.
“We hope that school departments communicate with those in the community and explain what this means for them,” she said.
Ballarat High School principal Gary Palmer said schools will need to plan with the community on how to manage the changes.
“We are aware and currently in planning mode,” he said.
On The Courier’s Facebook page many readers expressed their outrage over the issue, calling it unfair and disrespectful to parents.