Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Parents paid to send kids to school

PARENTS in the Northern Territory are being paid to send their children to school in a radical move to fight rampant truancy.

It follows threats from the NT Government that negligent parents would be prosecuted, and comes as the Government prepares to launch an advertising blitz on school attendance.
The money-for-school push has been introduced on the Tiwi Islands, with the Tiwi Land Council using its land use fund to persuade parents on the islands to obey the law.
There are no fixed payments. But several parents have already been refused access to money because their children play truant.
Land council development adviser Brian Clancy said: "They took it well - there were no rocks on roofs.''
Islanders can apply to their senior clan members for items such as cars and fridges to be bought from the land use fund, which is made up of royalties from businesses operating on the Tiwis.
Now parents have to ensure their children have an attendance record higher than 80 per cent before they are able to access money.
Meanwhile, the NT Government launched its school attendance campaign this week.
Education Minister Marion Scrymgour said while urban centres were doing well at about 90 per cent attendance, there was a need to do better - particularly in remote indigenous communities.
"All parents must realise that school isn't optional - it's compulsory across the NT for children aged six to 15,'' she said.
Opposition leader Terry Mills said the $500,000 could be better spent on truancy officers.
"Telling people what they already know - that school is compulsory - won't be anywhere near as effective as fining parents who fail to send their kids to school,'' he said.


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