Education International
Education International

Australia: Union support for school funding reform

published 6 March 2013 updated 13 March 2013

The Australian Education Union (AEU), one of EI’s national affiliates, has welcomed February’s release of the report from the Gonski Review of Funding for Australian Schooling. It explained that this report made 2012 a historic year for school funding reform in the country.

“The Gonski review found that we invest far too little in education and our funding arrangements are inequitable, inefficient and failing too many of our children,” said AEU Federal President Angelo Gavrielatos.

“The AEU welcomed the report and felt vindicated for its years of campaigning in this area. We have called on governments to commit to the funding and legislative reform necessary to implement the Gonski recommendations by the end of the year. Further, strong campaigning by the AEU and its members boosted public support for the call. It came from parents, community and welfare groups, business leaders and others.”

New education funding plan welcomed

Gavrielatos also welcomed the federal Government’s announcement on 3 September last of its intention to legislate for a new funding model consistent with the Gonski recommendations, to ensure that every child has access to a world-class education.

This is “a significant milestone in the progress towards fundamental reform after decades of flawed funding arrangements and under-investment in public education”, he stressed.

He said that the fundamental responsibility of governments to ensure high-quality education for every child, regardless of their background, circumstances or where they live, has been recognised.

“The Prime Minister has made it clear that the federal government is committed to finalising negotiations by March,” Gavrielatos added. “The weeks ahead are critical to achieving our long-time political objective of full, fair and equitable funding for public schools. It is in the interests of our children, our communities and the prosperity of the nation as a whole.”

EI: Six per cent of GDP towards education

EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen said that “democratically elected governments, whether at local, regional or national level, should be the guarantors and primary providers of education systems. The 2011 EI Policy paper on education makes it clear that public authorities have the key responsibility for ensuring that free, universally accessible education is well-resourced and constantly updated and developed.”

He added that by raising funds through progressive taxation, governments can and must invest a substantial proportion of the state budget in education, amounting to at least 6 per cent of their gross domestic product. Such investment should ensure the balanced development of all education sectors from early childhood education through to higher education and life-long learning.