Our education system seems to have been in difficulty for some time, and the latest figures indicate that it is not getting better (“Teacher shortage in 18 schools”, CCN 311).
The teacher shortage on the Central Coast is not unique to the region, but, beyond some token attempt to lure students into teacher-training courses, nobody in government cares.
It is bad enough that there isn’t a sufficient number of teachers to give proper attention to our children, but it is probably even worse that teachers are, by all accounts, teaching subjects in which they are not qualified, for lack of any proper person for the job.
This must be stressful for the teachers, and, of course, it is difficult to see how children can possibly be adequately instructed in a subject by a teacher who is, I suppose, reading a few pages ahead of them in the textbook.
Obviously, the main reason is that teachers are poorly paid, reflecting the low priority that our government puts on education.
Perhaps the government prefers an electorate that is just literate enough to vote but not knowledgeable enough to make a reasoned judgement about political issues and policies.
Unfortunately for politicians, they might find that, with the weedlike spread of influencers on social media, this policy could backfire on them.
Particularly in the USA, we are already seeing how considerable blocs of voters can be rallied to support political candidates (often of extremist views) that could pose a threat to the comfortable status quo our representatives are accustomed to.
This might be the only thought that could focus attention on what is needed in the education sector, if we are to continue to be the lucky country we have been in the past.
The first thing that is needed is bigger budgets, especially for subjects we need to emphasise, to deal with the technological changes rapidly coming upon us.
Then we have to improve the status of teachers, so that they are seen as more than just caretakers in a space where children are parked for the day to keep them off the streets.
We have to redistribute our teaching resources, so that disadvantaged children get a fair share of educational opportunity.
In this respect, the policy of our federal government is a shameful disgrace: how can we accept the lavishing of heated indoor swimming pools on the wealthiest schools in the country, when other schools can’t even provide basic supplies to students.
Pork-barrelling for votes will always be with us, but to short-change our children’s education for electioneering advantage should be too low even for our politicians.
Email, Sep 27
Bruce Hyland, Woy Woy