BYOD scheme is unfair - parents

Parents are calling for public schools to scrap Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies, saying they discriminate against less well-off families.

While the schemes are voluntary in name, the South Australian Association of School Parent Clubs (SAASPC) says many parents are feeling pressured to buy devices they cannot afford.

The call comes after Stirling East Primary parents wrote to South Australian Education Minister, Susan Close, saying that the school was “strongly, frequently and consistently” telling parents that their children needed their own iPad and would be disadvantaged if they didn’t have one.

However, SAASPC president, Jenice Zerna, told The Educator that schools should already have adequate supplies of computers for students to use in class.

“The Association ideally would like State and Federal Governments to fully fund education so that there are no costs to families for the necessary resources needed for their children's learning,” she said.    
“We believe that the schools should provide the equipment needed. When the schools are asking their parents to supply this technology they should justify why they are needed.”

Zerna added that schools should also ensure that the whole school community is consulted on important issues that have a big impact on families.

“The Association also takes exception to throw away lines about families and their financial situations,” she said.

Stirling East principal, Stephen Measday, told The Advertiser that the school was phasing out its practice of supplying Years 5-7 students with computers because it was draining the technology budget, resulting in limited access to computers for younger students.

Measday said tablets were used “when it makes sense in class” and that parent feedback on the BYOD scheme was “really mixed”.

A spokeswoman for the Victorian Education Department said computer policies were determined by each school in consultation with their communities.