Australian Greens Leader Bob Brown today released a background paper on schools funding and said the Gillard government should commit to introducing and passing legislation for the reformed schools funding system this year.
"Australia is long overdue for a multi-billion dollar injection into public schools. We also need to better fund the teaching of Indigenous languages that are at risk of disappearing, as well as boosting Asian languages, science and music," Senator Brown said.
"There is an urgent need to reform federal funding of schools, which will be become more apparent with the release of the Gonski review. We advocate a public school system which sets the standard for education across the nation.
"Australia's OECD ranking is disastrous with its public investment in schools at only 3% of GDP compared to an OECD average of 3.5%. Australia ranks 24 out of 30 on public investment in schools.
"The Gillard government, with the support of the opposition, passed legislation last year to extend the current inequitable funding model for another year, until 2013, setting up a gap of at least six years between the government's announced intention to review funding and any future change for the better."
Key ingredients for change, proposed by the Australian Greens:
- Multi-billion dollar additional investment in public education;
- A new funding model for non-government schools which breaks the old nexus between government and non-government school funding;
- The Commonwealth to have a role in determining which non-government schools receive funding including consideration of a school's enrolment policies;
- Significant investment in Indigenous education to ensure Indigenous students can be schooled in their own languages and addressing the hearing needs of many Indigenous students using modern technology and special classrooms;
- Ensuring that there are the necessary increases in funding for students with a disability or with special needs to meet the commitment of providing a high-quality education for all;
- Additional funds to increase the teaching of Asian languages in Australian schools and providing music educational opportunities in public primary schools and to boost science education; and
- Legislate a new funding model in 2012.
"In the middle of a mining boom, in one of the richest countries in the world and at the richest time in history Australia should have the best public education system in the world, not the 24th best," Senator Brown said.
"The Gillard government should remove the link between the resources received by government schools and the public funding of private schools. Private schools should no longer get automatic benefits from a rise in public school funding.
"If government funds are to flow to non-government schools, the federal government should have a role in determining conditions for the funding, and insist that non-government schools cannot refuse children with special needs."