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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

education gone missing: OECD Report « Previous | |Next »
September 25, 2007

The OECD's Education at a Glance indicates that the Australia is doing poorly on early childhood education and public funding of tertiary education. The Report excludes childcare from early childhood education because childcare services neither embody mandatory learning programs nor are staffed by trained teachers.


Although most countries are increasing private investment in education the OECD notes that private investment is normally used to compliment public investment not replace it. Except in Australia, where public funding is decreasing and private investment is increasing, whilst total funding per student has increased only marginally.

From the perspective of a knowledge economy the funding of higher education looks bad---that strengthens the ALP's "education has been neglected" narrative. As the
OECD Report says:

Human capital has long been identified as a key factor in driving economic growth and improving economic outcomes for individuals, while evidence is growing of its influence on non-economic outcomes including health and social inclusion.

In a global economy people face growing pressures to go on developing skills and knowledge over their working life-time as job mobility increases and job tasks become more complex. It is the US, which is commonly seen as the number one knowledge economy in the world. Hence all the policy talk from the ALP about how education contributes to the knowledge economy and its stress on the critical role that education plays in making Australia and its citizens economically competitive.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 6:42 AM | | Comments (8)


If government spending on education doubled today we wouldn't see any significant change inside a decade. Not only have we failed to teach the skills we need today, we've also lost a lot of teachers, in all subject areas - and not necessarily to the private schools either.

We can expect the skills shortage to get worse before it gets better. Unless we can come up with some way to get educators who have left to come back, and experienced just-about-to-retire boomer educators to stay longer, we're in a spot of bother.

Always enjoy the subtle variations from the masculine "norm" emanating from Cathy Wilcox.
Policy vaccuum?

do your comments apply to the universities too? How are they going these days? Does all that privaste investment through HECS make a difference?

yes the policy vacuum image is very witty. Wish I'd thought of it. Wilcox is much underrated. Is that because she is a woman?

education is truly missing.
newer generation is takeink knowledge but not education.
The importance of knowledge is detetoriating due to lack of good teacher's ,as teching is not taken as a profession by truly expert teachers as the job's in private industries are more lucrative.

I think it's less adversarial, more nuanced. Others are doing the overt sharp comment and very well, like Pryor.
Willcox is not as confrontational, although I've seen her make very sharp points, indeed. But often on something completely different in a situation than what might first be identified.
Yes, could be something to do with a proposed "women's wit" and "women's outlook and temperament" (yes the spelling is right). If Willcox is "different", is it solely to do with gender or are cultural, class, generational and or racial factors involved?
What makes any cartoonist special in her own way?
But it would be a risky even as speculation; an actual reductive claim would be in risably bad taste.

The greatest difference to ultimate educational performance generally (and a great deal more) is made by high quality early childhood education, targeted especially at lower socio-economic groupings. As Federation Fellow at UTS Michael Keane said recently, this is a perfect investment opportunity, it has no downside risk and the return on investment is anywhere from 2% to 17%. A recently published book. “Enriching Children, Enriching the Nation” by Robert G. Lynch ( summarises a vast amount of information about this vitally important issue.

This issue seems to be unclear to the present Commonwealth government if I heard the recent discussion on 2BL correctly with Minister Hockey proclaiming that unless we got more people (mothers with children not yet working seemed the main target group) into the workforce we will be in great strife. So far as I could tell he did not say anything which recognised what we know about high quality early childhood intervention. He mentioned (I think) that if mothers could not get childcare, well, they didn’t have to go to work.

The omission of data on this by the OECD because, “childcare from early childhood education because childcare services neither embody mandatory learning programs nor are staffed by trained teachers” is an extremely serious matter and distorts the education picture very signficantly.

Des' point about getting the parents of young kids into work is an important one. Early childhood schooling has been treated as more of a baby-sitting service than a crucial part of education.

Without the basics in the earliest years kids are doomed to keep falling behind in later years, particularly when schools can't get the specialist support staff they need.

There's widespread misunderstanding of what staff at daycare centres and pre-schools do to prepare kids for school. Simply understanding that they're part of a group can make a huge difference to kids' school experience.


The picture I get is that the most experienced are looking forward to retirement because universities are just not that nice to work in anymore. Of course those people have experience of the pre-Dawkins era which was friendlier and less competitive, but also less economically viable.

There's also a fair bit of uncertainty about where tertiary education is headed. What will and won't be taught and at which institutions. Depending on who you talk to, the whole shebang can seem like a day-to-day proposition.

My impression is that nobody really knows what's going on.