The paper "Quality of Education in Australia" is a delightful example of an education case study. While Australia is a third world country some sections of the population’ s quality of life are very low in terms of education and socioeconomic status. Access to quality education for Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders in Australia has remained way below adequate despite Australia being a developed economy. This sets a perfect example of poor government policy in the distribution of national resources in terms of educational intuitions and learning facilities. For this reason, there is a need for the government to revise its education policies in order to ensure that the Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders are not left behind as the economy grows.
In a sigh of the historical injustices that this particular group of people has gone through, it is important the current and future governments address this issue firmly. Policymakers in budget making, department of education and national wealth distribution should take note of this matter. Glossary Demand-driven- supply organization with a sensitive focus on customer demand Equitable distribution- legally sound and ethically acceptable division of property rights and obligations amongst a group Government policy- typically described as a principle or rule to guide decisions and achieve rational outcomes. Wealth- “ accumulated economic resources” (Glewwe & Jacoby 2000) Literature review Previous governments have commissioned a number of studies on the educational situation of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
Some of the recommendations from these reports are yet to be fully implemented and hence the current scenario (Behrendt et al). While Sackett, Kuncel, Arneson, Cooper, and Waters (2009) indicate that social economic status has no direct influence on students’ performance in college admissions tests, Glewwe and Jacoby (2000) say that social economic status directly influences the ability of a household to invest in higher education.
For the economically challenged households, failure to finance education either through self-finance or borrowing against future human capital leads to persistent poverty across generations. Glewwe and Jacoby (2000) go ahead and say that where borrowing for education investment is constrained, policymakers should target creating subsidies and loans for individuals from economically challenged backgrounds. The Commonwealth government acknowledges the increasing importance of higher education as portrayed by the establishment of the national target of 40 percent achievement of bachelor degree education or above for Australians aged 25 to 34 by the year 2025 (Edwards 2009).
So what are the steps that have been made to ensure that target is attained? To start with, the government enacted some major reforms in the higher education sector in 2008 such as indexation of base funding and the introduction of the demand-driven system (Edwards 2009). Kirby (2012) on the other hand argues that such moves are not necessary if reforms in education are not enacted from the lowest level upwards.
The author adds that the foundations of education are of core importance and hence should be prioritized. Mclnerney (2008) compared four ethnics groups in Australia among them Aboriginals to understand how their attitude sense of self-worth and motivation affected their school attendance and performance. From the study’ s findings, Asian and Anglo students perform better in school than Aboriginal and Lebanese students. The negative sense of self-worth was a negative predictor for poor performance in mathematics for Aboriginals, Anglo, and Lebanese students.
The study also revealed that Aboriginal students were more likely to miss classes which partly explain the poor performance. Furthermore, aboriginal students are more prone to negative pressures from parents and peers. In fact, there was little evidence of peer support networks for Aboriginal students which were noted to have a positive impact on the performance and class attendance for Asian students. The research, however, did not factor in the role of socioeconomic status on performance, as is the case in Sackett et al study (2009). Nonetheless, Mclnerney (2008) acknowledges that the majority of the Aboriginal and Lebanese students were from low socioeconomic backgrounds.
Edwards (2009) thus says one of the best ways that individual universities and the government can do is monitoring the enrolment and performance of students from low social economic status backgrounds. This is important in the sense that improving education levels nationally in Australia is aimed at improving the quality of life and producing a highly-skilled workforce to power the economy. Discussion The government is very much interested in raising the education levels in Australia from elementary to higher education and vocational training as indicated in the 2008 higher education reforms.
However, there is a huge gap in theory and policy in realizing this set target. The target of having 40% of 25 to 34 year-olds having at least a bachelor’ s degree by 2025 is not realistic. Edwards used current figures in university enrolment and graduation from Victorian universities only factoring in the number of international students who graduate from Australian universities but leave the country. The figure showed that only 20% of 25 to 34 year-olds will have attained a minimum bachelor’ s degree by 2025.
This disparity is further illustrated in the table below. Year Change 2006 to 2025 2006 2010 2015 2020 2025 Number Percentage Attainment numbers (‘ 000 persons) 25-30 yr cohort 249.9 272.7 298.8 358.1 422.3 172.8 62.2 Victorian Total 852.1 928.9 1024.5 1222.4 1471.0 618.9 77.0 Attainment rates (%) 25-34 yr cohort 34.0 34.6 34.7 39.8 46.5 12.5 Victorian Total 21.4 22.6 24.0 26.2 28.4 7.0 Table 1: Attainment numbers and rates forecast for the Victorian population (Source: Edwards 2008) Table one relates the projected figures of 25-34 years cohort to have a minimum bachelor’ s degree by 2025 in Vitoria alone if the Common Wealth government projections are to be realized (Edwards 2008). There is a huge difference in the possible output in graduates given the current resources and the projected number.
This gap represents the deficiency in enrolment that the government will have to address through policy apart from general growth in population or increased enrolment of international students. Furthermore, there is a notable gap between the actual levels and the beginning of the projected estimates. This is because the current estimations, as of 2008 were based on a cohort group that will not feature in the same cohort group by 2025. The earliest time that the projections begin in 2013 which is the earliest members of this cohort group will complete university education. The disparity in the projections based on government policy, the more realistic projections based on current graduation numbers, enrolment, and investment in education shows that much needs to be done.
Individual universities have set up their own targets of enrolling more students from low socioeconomic status backgrounds. This will see the number of students attaining the minimum bachelor’ s degree but also ensure equitable distribution of educational resources across populations and different geographic areas. In so doing, national wealth and equality will be better distributed in Australia.
Nonetheless, efforts are not directed to higher education facilities alone. As indicated by fig one, the time to act on the projections will be factoring in students in elementary school who by 2025 shall be graduating. Kirby (2012) insists that the development of education should from the grassroots upwards. The author opines that the quality of education offered in elementary schools in Australia has deteriorated over the years despite numerous reforms by various governments. The study by Mclerney (2008) also indicates that peer motivation, especially for Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders and other minority groups, should be cultivated to enable a change in attitude towards education and improve performance at lower levels for students to gain entry into universities.
Otherwise, improving higher education alone by engaging the supply lines of the university of enrolment will not achieve the desired objectives. Conclusion The goal of the government is to improve the quality of life for all Australians. One of the key ways of doing so is improving education levels and thus skills. This increases employability and is a sure way for low social-economic groups to improve their quality of life.
The government policy that seeks to increase the number of university grandaunts by 2025 should thus address adequately the plight of the socio-economically disadvantaged where they have no ability to invest in higher education. Other issues such as motivation and culturally-based negative attitudes towards western education should be addressed. This way, the ambitious plans by the federal government might come to pass by 2015.
Anonymous (2009). Workforce Futures: A Paper to Promote Discussion Towards an Australian
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Behrendt, L., Larkin, S., Griew, R. & Kelly, P., 2012. Department of industry, innovation,
science, research, and tertiary education. Review of higher education access and outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People's final report. Accessed online from, http://www.innovation.gov.au/HigherEducation/IndigenousHigherEducation/ReviewOfIndigenousHigherEducation/FinalReport/whatarewetryingtoachieve.html
Edwards, D. (2009). Forecasting university enrolment and completion numbers for Victoria.
Submitted to the HE Expert Panel, Skills Victoria, Department of Innovation, Industry & Regional Development. Victoria Australian Council of Educational Research.
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The Sydney Morning Herald. Accessed online from, http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/we-need-look-only-to-australias-past-to-give-public-education-a-future-20121203-2ar56.html
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