What is wrong with Australia’s education system?
Sorry, to evoke a shorter response, I’ll rephrase the question: What is RIGHT with Australia’s education system? To be completely fair; not a lot.
We still exist within a system that dates back to the 1800’s. Change after change does nothing to change the system. Rather, it just gives the system a new look, a new name, and the rubber stamp of approval sends it out on yet another exercise in futility.
At state level this is a fact. At a federal level, this too, is a sad fact. We are living in a bubble of ignorance and mediocrity that is only causing our young to fall deeper and deeper in the ever-widening abyss of illiteracy and unfulfilled potential.
This article is not only being written to complain about the current system, as that would be unproductive of my time and a complete bore since there are many people who know what I speak about. At the same time, I do not claim to have the answers, I can only provide alternative ways of thinking, a step in the right direction to complete transformation of the system, not change. A shift in paradigm, if you will.
Late last year, I wrote an article that described the New Curriculum. That was a complete 180 turn in the way we thought about education and our on-going learning in each of our lives. Today I speak also about the institutions themselves, the ways in which they divide our society.
Private education has been a large sector of Australia’s education system since pre-federation. A number of Catholic, Anglican and other church-affiliated, primary and secondary schools have existed in this country for a very long time and have almost been the norm as far as enrollment numbers go. It is almost mandatory for teachers these days to have some kind of religious education training if they wish to work at a variety of schools. There is almost an equal amount of private institutions as there are public.
This is where the problem lies.
I am, and have always been, a firm advocate of the state being in charge of our three most important and basic needs; Health, Infrastructure and Education.
These things are vital to the development of any nation. By global standards, Australia has a long way to catch up with all three.
Education should be a realm of the government and the government only. Heavily funded by our own tax dollars. The same goes for the areas of Health and Infrastructure as well. Having any of these realms run by a private sector body is disastrous and a backwards step in a nation’s progression.
And education should be completely free.
The first and most obvious factor in the argument against private education is that it sets us up for a disadvantaged society. We have the haves and have-nots standing on either side of an even wider divide than we began with. It is, in all honesty, a fact that private schools are far better resourced and provide many opportunities for their students than public schools. There are exceptions, obviously. A number of public schools located in our leaf-green suburbs cater almost as equally as a private school. So where does this leave the students that attend schools located in our lower SEI areas? (Socio-Economic Index)
A vicious cycle continues where our young people, brought up in working class households, are at a disadvantage. I myself teach at a school located in a working class suburb. There are many fine teachers that work alongside myself and we do all we can for our students, every minute of the day. We are resourceful and collect anything of educational relevance for our classes. There are many steps taken within our programming in order to ensure that we are delivering the vital information in the correct and most effective way.
Yet, the private schools have almost endless resources and money at their disposal.
The private education institutions in this country must go. Their relevance is not required any longer in a society that is increasingly secular. If religious philosophy is something that parents see as vital, then they should take their children to the relevant church/mosque/temple out of school hours. However, this is not a discussion on religion in our schools, it is about the divide between private and public institutions.
All a private system does is create massive disadvantage. We already have free-falling literacy and numeracy statistics. The extra programs put in place by our government in the public system is not enough to tackle this. They government has forgotten how important education is to a developed/developing nation and how it can heavily affect the future. If our young are to be a functioning part of our society in the future, then they need to be given the proper skills and information. They need to learn to think for themselves, to become more than just speakers of repetitive, mindless rhetoric. They need to make a difference and be the inventors, the thinkers, the doers, the artists, the teachers!
Our current education system needs to go. It needs to be completely replaced by one that is a revolution in education. This can only happen if we are given a fully-nationalised education system that is 100% funded by the government and is a priority on the list when any federal budget is announced.
And it should be free.