Australia, New Zealand and the children we don’t really care about

Insufficient policy attention is the reason that the significant minimum standards gap between indigenous and non-indigenous children in Australia and New Zealand has persisted now for over a decade and a half, according to the 2013/4 Education for all global monitoring report pages 20, 202 and 203. The graph below is found on page 203 of the report.

“In Australia and New Zealand, the outlook for poor students is particularly bleak, with wide wealth gaps persisting in both grade 4 and grade 8. In New Zealand, while almost all rich students achieved the minimum standards in both grades, only around two-thirds of poor students did so (Figure 4.9). A poor student in New Zealand has a similar chance of reaching the benchmark as a student in Turkey, on average.” (page 202)

Considering the enormous focus the State and Federal Governments have put upon teacher performance, explicitly linked to the achievement of minimum standards for students, it is reasonable to question why this issue is not being addressed; why is this gap continuing to persist? What shifts this problem into appalling, is that in 2013 there were 3,645,519 students attending school in Australia with only 182,636 of these being Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, that is only 5% of the student population. I know the issues here are multi-layered, but do these children matter to Australia or not? This situation should not be permitted to continue.


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