"How do you prefer your taxes to be spent? Apple or Microsoft?"
That's the question one Canberra father believes his son's new school is asking, after its inclusion of Apple iPads and notebook computers on a list of back-to-school equipment is threatening to set parents back thousands of dollars.
Mark Wilson's son – whose name Fairfax Media has chosen to withhold – is enrolled to begin year seven at Melba Copland Secondary School this year.
Mr Wilson said he was shocked when he received a list of essential requirements for the 2016 school year in the post. It came at a cost of $2794.67.
He thought it seemed unfair as it is a public school in a catchment area which gives priority to some of Canberra's most disadvantaged suburbs, but when he voiced his complaints, he was told it was "the way of the future".
"Whose future? I limit my kids to one hour of television a day because of the health factor, now you're telling me they've got to be in front of a computer screen for six-and-a-half hours a day because you deem it the best way to go?" Mr Wilson said.
His concerns stem from his family's financial situation.
The former local business owner was forced to go on a government pension several years ago due to illness.
His older daughter, who was already a student at the school, has chosen to transfer to a different school to alleviate some of the financial burden on her parents.
Her book pack, plus that of his youngest daughter who attends primary school, will cost $500 combined.
His son desperately wants to attend Melba Copland Secondary School though, as it's close to his home and his friends will be there.
While Mr Wilson has been encouraged by the school and the education directorate to apply for financial assistance, he said it is unfair for taxpayers to shell out "another $3000" so his son can attend the public school.
"I feel bad enough being on the pension as it is. It doesn't sit well with me and to ask for more handouts is even more ridiculous."
Mr Wilson is also worried carrying around the expensive technology will make students the target of thieves.
"I grew up poor. If I knew kids were walking around with $3000 worth of computer equipment on their back [when I was a kid] you'd be going home with a black eye, bloody nose and I'd have your backpack," he said.
He estimates 70 parents have submitted a formal complaint about what he deems excessive requirements, although an Education and Training Directorate spokesperson disputed this.
The spokesperson said the list is just a guideline and the school has a number of devices available for students to use.
"There is no compulsion to purchase all or any products and information has been provided to families to ensure full knowledge of this arrangement.
"Families are encouraged to approach their school to discuss the needs of the child and the family. Schools also have arrangements in place to ensure students have equity of access."
The spokesperson said information and communications technologies are an important part of teaching and learning for students of all backgrounds and is mandated in the Australian curriculum.
The ACT government spent $9.2 million on information technologies in schools last financial year, with a further $38 million committed over the next four years.
"Our schools emphasise the use of ICT and the development of ICT skills to ensure that their students can develop the necessary skills to analyse information, solve problems and communicate in a highly digital society."