Examining educational subsidies

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 06 December, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 06 December, 2003, 12:00am

I note the ability of correspondents who write anonymously to predict government policy. A recent letter suggested a reduction in the special allowance paid to native English-speaking teachers (NETs). A few days later cuts to the allowance were announced. I wonder if the letter 'Why subsidise singles?' (December 5) is similarly predictive.

The special allowance for NETs costs about $120 million a year. It is taxable so about 15 per cent of the cost flows back to the government. This expenditure benefits all pupils in maintained schools, whatever their background. By contrast, according to 'Why civil servants are sitting pretty' (December 4), the overseas education allowances for senior civil servants cost $900 million a year and benefit more than 6,000 pupils who, by definition, come from high-income families.

If we are going to look at the fairness of subsidies, I would humbly suggest that the special allowance paid to NETs is not the most obvious place to start.