Invest in public education to kickstart the economy
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 126 No 2, 12 March 2021, page no. 12
The Australian Education Union (AEU) has urged the federal government to put education at the forefront of its 2021-22 budget plans.
To date, the federal government’s COVID economic support programs have focused primarily on individuals and select sectors of the economy, including construction and business.
The AEU has called on the federal government to invest in schools, preschools and TAFE in its next budget, so Australia can simultaneously begin to repair the tremendous economic and social damage caused by COVID-19 and set the country up for decades of innovation and prosperity.
In a pre-federal budget submission (https://www.aeufederal.org.au/application/files/3416/1224/1077/SUB_21_01_28_Pre-Budget_Submission_2021-22.pdf), the AEU recommended:
- an immediate injection of funds to bring all state schools to 100 per cent of the schooling resource standard and to help bridge the huge equity and achievement gaps between students from high and low SES households
- a federally-funded school building program to benefit the construction and manufacturing sectors and retail employment growth as communities congregate around new schools
- a guaranteed long-term federally-funded capital works package to provide improvements to public schools and build new schools in areas of rapid population growth
- a full digital equity audit and significant further investment in ICT equipment and internet access for vulnerable and disadvantaged state school students to identify the unmet need and to bridge the digital divide for students from low socio-economic backgrounds
- guaranteeing permanent, adequate funding for universal access to 600 hours per year of a quality early childhood education program in the year before school
- putting TAFE at the forefront of the recovery efforts through immediate increased federal funding support
- restoring the more than $3 billion funding cut from TAFE and training since 2013
- guaranteeing a minimum of 70 per cent of all government VET funding to TAFE
- creating fit-for-purpose teaching qualifications that reflect student-centred learning.
it is a fundamental responsibility of government to ensure that preschools, schools and TAFE have both the capital works and recurrent funding necessary for a high quality education for every child in Australia. Not only will this have an immediate impact on helping rebuild the Australian economy but it is vitally important for the future of children, students and young people.
Supporting public education is more important than ever and it is well past time for the federal government to invest in preschools, schools and TAFE to ensure that every child can reach their full potential.