The 2017-18 Federal Budget was a terrible Budget for education and the future opportunities of our children. A further $600 million was cut from TAFE, $3.8 billion from universities and $22 billion from schools.
Thanks to Malcolm Turnbull’s Gonski alternative, Tasmanian schools will lose $85 million in the next two years, which is the second lowest rate of funding for any state in Australia. Of this, $65 million will be ripped from our public schools.
We have to ask ourselves is this good for Tasmania? Is this good for a state that needs to change how we view education? Clearly the answer is no.
These cuts will be felt by every child in every classroom across Tasmania. There will be serious ramifications, for our children and their teachers, but also for families and the wider community.
These cuts mean our teachers and schools will have fewer resources to teach our children. If we don’t give our children the best educational opportunities, ultimately, Tasmania won’t be able to compete with other states for another generation.
Education opens up a world of possibilities and paves the way for individuals to set their own path. However, if children are not provided the environment or support to succeed and go onto further education they will have fewer opportunities and job prospects.
Parents and teachers have been in contact about these cuts and they are anxious and angry. They’ve been telling me what a difference funding can make to schools, which unfortunately hasn’t been the case here in Tasmania due to the State Government’s poor implementation of Gonski.
Our teachers are already strained and often go well beyond their call of duty, taking on many roles. Without adequate funding teachers will be stretched further and children will miss out on one-on-one time with teachers and support for literacy, numeracy, reading and writing.
There is also growing concern in the community about the impact these cuts will have on Catholic schools after warnings that fees might go up.
This is particularly alarming for Tasmanian Catholic schools that take in a large number of students from diverse backgrounds to ensure that children do not miss out on an education because of circumstances that are out of their control.
This is not about sandstone schools in Melbourne or Sydney, nor should it be about pitting Catholic schools against public schools. Parents send their children to Catholic schools for a variety of reasons - it’s a personal choice.
We know that that Tasmania has the lowest retention rates going on to secondary education and we should be doing all we can to turn this around, and yet, we’re getting the worst funding deal.
Education is the key to overcoming disadvantage, which makes it even more extraordinary that the Liberal Government here in Tasmania has welcomed the $85 million cut to our schools.
Investing properly in education isn’t just the right thing to do, its smart economics. It’s what can shift someone from poverty to prosperity and it is the key that opens up doors to opportunities, better health and better employment.
We need to invest in education, skills and training now more than ever. We need to do it properly, starting with early education, right through to primary schools, high schools, colleges, universities and TAFE.
So many schools in Tasmania have made progress and come so far over the last decade but this funding cut takes them two huge steps backwards.
When we fund education we have to think of young people from all communities who deserve to have confidence in their ability to reach for the stars, which for many, might mean they are the first child in their family to aspire to go to university or TAFE.
We should be making it easier for young people get a quality education and achieve goals that would otherwise be unattainable, not harder.
And we should be doing everything we can to create a culture of education and learning and ensure more go on to year 10, year 11 and 12, and beyond.
Stripping funding from early education, schools, universities and TAFE is taking our economy and our society in exactly the opposite direction of where it needs to go.
If we don’t start investing in education now, we will continue to pay a heavy price.
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