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Issue #1847      November 7, 2018

Free, universal and secular

Politics in the Pub, Perth

Education in Australia was discussed last week at Politics in the Pub on Thursday November 1 in Perth. Speakers included WA Senator Louise Pratt, Shadow Assistant Minister for Universities and Shadow Assistant Minister for Equality; Tony Mullen, former General Secretary of the State Schools Teachers Union, SSTU and Aaron Beardsell, student activist and CPA youth leader.

All speakers took issue with the current state of education and the ongoing privatisation under the Coalition government; the user pays model of education.

Successive governments have undermined access to education at all levels. Expensive early education, primary, secondary and tertiary education make it a privilege rather than a right for all. In recent years a large proportion of the public education budget has been diverted to private schools leaving the public sector struggling.

Class sizes are not decreasing, violence and security towards teaching staff has risen adding to the already enormous pressure of working long hours often on short contracts with little or no job security.

It is the time for the process of privatisation to be reversed. The HECS system doesn’t work and has created a new class of indebted unemployed young professionals who end their studies to find themselves unable to achieve job security.

The Communist Party of Australia supports an education system which promotes collective and democratic values, cooperation not individualism, equality not discrimination, multiculturalism not racism, and the ideals of peace and progress.

The guiding principle and aim of the education system must be the provision of free, universal and secular public education for all children from pre-school right through to post-secondary, to produce a highly educated and cultured society. Education involves much more than passing numeracy and literacy tests. It is about the full development of human potential, equipping people for life as well as preparing them for further studies or work.

Education is a basic human right not a privilege for those who can afford it. Australia has sufficient wealth to provide every child with a quality education. This applies to all levels including lifelong access to education for example the re-education of workers who may be attempting to upgrade, develop new skills or transition from old technologies to emerging technologies. The CPA puts forward following policy measures:

  • Increased funding for teaching and non-teaching staff, for the building and maintenance of classrooms and other school facilities, and the purchase of resources.
  • Phasing out of state aid to non-government schools.
  • Removal of the MySchool website.
  • All teaching and non-teaching staff employed centrally by education departments on a permanent basis for ongoing work. The education system needs democratisation not privatisation.
  • No voucher system, the CPA believes there is no place for class-based choice or competition in education.
  • The CPA calls for the abolition of fees in public educational institutions at all levels. Public education and apprenticeship programs must be properly funded and subsidies to private institutions phased out.
  • Universal student unionism and former student services restored, in particular, subsidised childcare.

Next article – Opera House eruption – Power of the gambling lobby

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