In various parts of the world schools are attempting to cope with funding cuts through a variety of fund-raising efforts. This makes a mockery of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that states: “Everyone has a right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages” and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights that calls for “the progressive introduction of free education” at the secondary level. Instead the trend in many countries seems to be in the other direction.
Schools are increasingly forced to raise money through sponsorship deals and marketing arrangements such as the leasing or selling of school land, sale of advertising space on school bags, book covers, school fences and even uniforms, providing night classes, and providing services for the community (see School Commercialism).
In New Zealand, most schools cannot meet their commitments, including staffing for additional learning support for subjects such as English as a Second Language and for children with special needs, without fund-raising efforts, including school fees, donations, grants, and sponsorships. Some schools are forced to defer maintenance. Teaching workloads have increased and class sizes are large in many schools.
Canadian schools are also forced to undertake their own fundraising activities. The funding shortfalls mean that Canadian teachers are often forced to use their own money for essential teaching tools, professional development and humanitarian purposes such as lunches for hungry students. Teachers spend an average of $1000 a year on teaching aids and courses, according to an estimate by the Canadian Teachers Federation.
The same is true in poor North American schools where individual teachers spend their own money on basic stationary items for their classes such as paper, pencils and paper clips and sometimes even soap and toilet paper for school bathrooms. (It is estimated that in aggregate this cost is around $1 billion per year.)
Wealthier schools are increasingly setting up charitable foundations, sometimes with paid staff, to raise funds for schools. There are more than 5000 of these school foundations in the US. Urban public schools have become dependent on private grants.
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