Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Saving State Education

I continue to be alarmed at our present government's drive towards privatising education. From the injection of money in the 2009 budget towards private schools (more here) to the recent moves towards charter schools we seem to ignoring what is an amazing state education system which we should be protecting at all costs. In 2009 I spent 3 weeks on a Woolf Fisher Fellowship in Australia and I was concerned by the growing enterprise in privatizing education. Almost a third of students in Australia now attend private schools and the rate of increase doesn't seem to be slowing. As sited below, increases in private school student numbers far out weigh those in government education.  

Although government schools continue to educate the majority of students in Australia, the number of students enrolled in non-government schools has been increasing at a faster rate over the last decade. Since 2000, Catholic and Independent schools had the largest proportional increases in the number of students (11% and 37% respectively) while the number of students in government schools increased by only 1.3%. Australian Social Trends.

My concern is that our country is moving more towards this model, a market driven model and a failed model internationally. The recent Fairfax news article entitled Finnish lesson: No charter schools, publish in the Manawatu Standard, gives a superb overview of these concerning trends and possible consequences. Alongside this the article highlights lessons that can be learned from Finnish system. As John O'Neill from Massey notes...

They recognised that “there is a strong correlation between poverty, particularly intergenerational poverty, and educational achievement”. And they “had a strong commitment to equity”.
In Finland, equity means “a relatively homogeneous schooling system”, O’Neill says... Finland has no private schools.

We need to hold on to what we have and not let the GERM movement corrupt our wonderful state system, where education is accessible to all.  

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