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Public education: Barely a passing grade

Updated: Aug 29, 2019

By Juliana Knijnik

Image by The Palmetto Insider

What happened to giving everyone a fair go?

Little by little we have started to see the cracks in Australia’s education system.

We have seen the reports of public schools being overcrowded and underfunded, barely able to give students the basics. In contrast we have seen elite private schools receive funding to build multimillion-dollar auditoriums to host musicals.

Public schools are owned by the state and are free for people to attend while private schools are owned by organisations or individuals and you have to pay to attend. Given this, the obvious conclusion is that the government funds the public schools and if it gives any money to private schools at all it would be substantially less than what they give to public schools. After all the state doesn’t own those schools so they would give less money than public schools right?


The public-school system holds twice the number of kids as the private one. How is it possible that whilst funding to education has grown 80% of that funding as found by the Guardian Institute went to the private system?

Thousands of public schools displayed outside Parliament in fight against funding cuts @ Fair Funding Now

Currently many public schools are underfunded, they have paint peeling from the walls and struggle to provide basic equipment such as books for their students. These schools have resorted to asking and even badgering parents for things such as tissue-boxes and soap, basic essential equipment. Some teachers even have to use their own money to buy things such as pencils so their students have something to write with. Meanwhile, private schools are building multi-million dollar sports halls and have their own pools.

You’d think that with all these problems, funding for public schools would increase. But this hasn’t been the case and in fact the $14 billion dollar cuts that the Scott Morrison government has delivered to the public school system’s budget, proves otherwise. What we are seeing is a rise to the catering for the elite and upper middle class, with the government having little to no regard to the rest of Australian children.

According to St George Teachers' Association, 99% of public schools by 2023 will not achieve minimum national benchmarks known as the Schooling Resource Standard. These standards are put into place to measure if individual schools are being able to ensure their students reach the minimum levels of learning in areas such as literacy or numeracy. These statistics show the devastating consequences the government’s policies have started to have.

The worst thing is, is that the kids who are worse off will be hit the hardest, as found by Fair Funding Now. Kids with disabilities, from disadvantaged backgrounds, from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent who mostly attend public schools are all being left out. They will suffer because of this. Kids who need the help from the government the most will not receive this extra aid. How is this giving all Australians a fair go?

Additionally, education is the key to a better life. With little funding, public schools will not be able to offer a high standard education. Without a good education those worse off will not be able to better themselves while those who are well off can afford to send their kids to private schools with their superior facilities and resources. This will cause Australia’s social class difference to widen even further.

As you can see something needs to be done and it needs to be done now. Needs based funding should be instituted so all schools reach the School Resource Standard. All children deserve a good education and it isn’t being given. Public schools need more funding and the government either doesn’t see it or doesn’t care. We need to do something, not just for ourselves but for every kid in Australia, now and in the future.

*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the Woke magazine.


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