OPOTIKI College principal Susan Impey has weighed in on the abolishment of NCEA fees, fully supporting the change.

The announcement came last week from minister of education Chris Hipkins, and garnered support from the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG).

“This is a simple change that will ease the financial burden on low-income households, and one that CPAG has been campaigning for since NCEA was first introduced,” said Professor Peter O’Connor, education spokesman for CPAG.

Mrs Impey said the change would be a positive one for Opotiki College.

Opotiki College principal Susan Impey

“The fees removal is an excellent part of the NCEA changes and will make a big differences for our learners and whanau,” she said.

“Each year the school follows up on payments and also pays a number ourselves to ensure no students are disadvantaged.

“I have always thought it was unfair to have fees on exams as it just loads another layer of stress on students and one that is out of their own control.”

CPAG has been concerned for some time about the “hidden costs” of New Zealand’s education, which includes NCEA fees, voluntary donations, trip fees, uniforms and the introduction of the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy within schools.

“For many children, the stigma of not being able to afford education costs, such as NCEA fees, will stay with them for a long time, and impact on the way they view their opportunities to succeed in the world, and their own self-worth,” said Professor O’Connor.

“To have any real impact on children’s lives, the government must not delay implementation of such important policies until 2020.”

According to CPAG, education is a social good and should be paid for through general taxation, not user pays.

“There are a lot of changes that need to happen before New Zealand can truthfully say that its public education is free, and the removal of NCEA costs, which are a burden on so many families, is a great step forward toward that goal,” said Professor O’Connor.