News & Events

Starting the conversation

April 19, 2023

Media coverage and conversations on Twitter is underway with a groundswell of support and thoughts about the proposal.  Articles have appeared so far in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald, Australian Financial Review and The Conversation.

The Age and Sydney Morning Herald focus on the financing of the proposal which would cost taxpayers an extra $8 billion a year but boost academic equity and achievement. The Catholic Education Commission of Victoria expressed an open mind to the report’s funding proposal, saying: “The government funding our schools receive is greatly valued. However, any proposal that could help take further financial pressure off families certainly warrants consideration.”

The Australian Financial Review (paywalled) highlights that Australia’s school system is among the most privatised in the world – with 30 per cent of primary students and more than 40 per cent of secondary students attending non-government schools. The OECD average is 18 per cent. The article emphasises that Australia is unique in not requiring public obligations in terms of regulation of fees and enrolment practices in return for government funding. That, in turn, was leading to far greater social segregation than any other country in the OECD, and had been worsening since the 1980s.

The Conversation commissioned Dr Paul Kidson, Senior Lecturer in Educational Leadership, Australian Catholic University, to write an overview of the proposal in which he highlights that Australia’s education system is in “conflict here with the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, which affirms that education at least at primary level should be free and compulsory. Crucially, parents have “a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children”.

He sets out the five-point plan proposed in the publication. As Kidson summarises: “As the review into the next National School Reform Agreement gathers pace, Greenwell and Bonnor’s invitation is for us all to come together with a vision for something different in Australian education. Certainly, the evidence strongly suggests what we are doing right now is not working.”

Picture from Shutterstock published by The Conversation.