An Auckland school has made iPads compulsory on stationery list, parents struggle to find the money.
Schools all over the world have started to introduce the use of tablets for educational purposes. A school in Auckland has made the new iPad compulsory for Year 9 students, and set off an uproar in the process.
According to a report sent by Orewa College to parents last month, students will be required to bring a computing device such as a netbook or tablet at school. While the school would provide the internet facilities, Orewa College will require the parents’ financial input in purchasing the tablets.
The reason behind this move – according to the school – is, “Orewa College is grasping the opportunity to step into the 21st century with the latest technology available. We believe all schools are moving in this direction, and for us 2012 is the year to start.”
For this move the iPad 2 has been particularly selected. The school recommends it due to its longer battery life and variety of applications. However, it comes with a retail price tag of $799 on Apple’s website while there is a range of tablets available from $200 – $500.
The announcement has produced significant opposition since last month. Sue Moroney, Labour’s education spokesman, believes that many households won’t be able to afford such pricey tablets.
“I think what we’ve got to be careful of is that we don’t end up with a two-tier education system where we put low-income families in a really embarrassing situation – one in which they can’t provide their child with really expensive technology and therefore limit their education,” she told Fairfax Media.
Kate Shevland, Orewa College’s principal, defended the school’s decision by describing a policy where the school would provide computers as an alternative for those students who may not be able to afford a tablet.
She also told the media that the school has kept the economic climate in mind while making decisions. “We realize times are tough, so we are looking at the possibilities of funding or support. That is why we have given parents and students so much time – half a year.”
The school currently provides access to 400 computers, but as the demand for them is increasing they are not able to offer PCs for the whole student body.
Parents were invited to meetings where they could discuss about the stationery requirements and also check the iPad 2 to comment about the school’s recommendation. Feedback has been mixed, but a few parents have noticeably been upset about the decision.
This doesn’t mean that technology should not be embraced in schools. In fact, parents should look towards more affordable tablets than the iPad. For instance, Chinese OEM manufacturers produce low end devices under many brand names, and giants such as Asda have started to roll out tablets under $200. That would give parents flexibility and options according to their budgets.