Education International
Education International

Australia’s education system still plagued by inequality

published 27 October 2015 updated 29 October 2015

A new report has revealed that Australia’s schools lack the funding to keep up with the needs of a growing student population, and among those especially hit hard and left behind come from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The report, released by Victoria University’s Mitchell Institute, Educational opportunity in Australia 2015: Who succeeds and who misses out, provides in-depth evidence linking disadvantage to difficulties at school and later in life.

With financial resources not keeping pace with the needs of disadvantaged children, the research shows that one-in-five children begin their education already lacking the skills they need to achieve academic success. The report also found that students from the poorest backgrounds were twice as likely not to meet the benchmarks during primary school.

The Australian Education Union (AEU) says that the report is proof that more funding to public education is needed, as recommended in the Gonski Report.

“The report shows the school system is working for the majority of students, with most completing school and moving on to work, but there are a disturbingly large number of disadvantaged students who are missing out,” said AEU President Correna Haythorpe. “We know that schools which have already received Gonski funding are using it to make a difference for their students.”

According to the findings, only 60 percent of the poorest students finish the 12th grade, while those from the most affluent backgrounds complete high school at the rate of 89 percent. For indigenous students it’s far worse. The study revealed that only 42 percent of Aboriginal students on Australia’s mainland completed their secondary studies on time.

Haythorpe says that is now up to Australia’s new Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, to reverse the damaging cuts made by his predecessor, Tony Abbott, in order to boost the quality of education for all students.