EMA – A student’s perspective

Ron Garcia, is a Year 9 student and a member of the VicSRC Students Executive. In this guest blog post he talks about the importance of the Education Maintenance Allowance in helping all Victorian students be able to participate in all the opportunities school has to offer.

Education Maintenance Allowance or EMA for short has been around for quite a while now, aiding students who may have financial difficulties by helping to meet specific costs related to school and their education.

I have been supported by EMA since Prep. I come from a family that fit the threshold of being eligible for the payment.

If primary and secondary school students stopped being supported it would severely and negatively impact students. Most schools have an annual levy or voluntary contribution that needs to be paid, yearly student diary and identification card. EMA helps me cover these costs.

Other costs include excursions and/or incursions. Often teachers structure assessment around these excursions or incursions and if you are not able to cover the costs your academic results may be affected. For example if you are assessed on field work but could not afford to attend the excursion to conduct the fieldwork you may be on the verge of getting a low mark such as a ‘satisfactory’. EMA again helps me and my family cover the costs of additional activities within school like excursions that are valuable to my learning and my academic grades.

Most schools in Victoria require students to wear school uniform and have a uniform policy. If  students don’t adhere to the uniform policy, obviously consequences will follow. Uniforms cost a considerable amount of money. Even the basic items and every day wear like trousers, shoes, and short and long-sleeve shirts are still expensive.  EMA helps my family cover the costs of uniform. Without the EMA contribution I would be subjected to hand-me-downs which would have the possibility of being too tight or too large to fit me, but also, if I don’t have the correct uniform in the first place, might mean I face discipline from school.

Overall, the Education Maintenance Allowance has helped me pay for at least 3 subjects and school fees which equates up to nearly two-hundred dollars. If the funding was cut to the EMA, it would not only be just as difficult to pay aspects of my school education, but also exclude me from activities that I need to take part in.

Ron Garcia
VicSRC Student Executive, 2013 – 2014

As published on the VCOSS website on 2 June 2014.

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