19 April 2017
As AHISA’s National Chair, Karen Spiller, has already written, for many Indigenous students in outer regional to very remote areas, the academic achievement gap is better described as a chasm. A dramatic word, but the situation warrants it, particularly when it appears Australia is in danger of losing a sense of urgency when it comes to creating educational opportunities for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.
This morning, the Fairfax press reported AHISA’s proposal for full federal funding for Indigenous students attending campuses established by metropolitan independent schools as an attempt to ‘cash in’ on federal funding for Indigenous students.
Anyone familiar with the intricacies of federal general recurrent grants for students attending independent schools, or who understands the cost of education provision in regional and remote Indigenous communities, would immediately recognise the flaws in Fairfax’s argument. Those not so familiar can catch up on the details of AHISA’s proposal in its pre-Budget submission to Treasury.
In brief, AHISA proposes greater flexibility in federal funding models for non-government schools to ensure support for innovative on-country educational provision for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. We give examples of successful ventures between AHISA members’ schools and Indigenous communities and suggest that allowing established independent schools to create campuses for Indigenous students – bypassing the need to register a new school – is one option to fast track closure of the achievement gap in regional areas.
I find it extraordinary that when proven benefits to Indigenous students are weighed in the balance against an opportunity to run a beat up story critical of independent schools, it is misinformation which wins.
One glance at the NAPLAN results below should be enough to convince journalists that Australia cannot afford the luxury of meaningless reporting just for the sake of generating clicks on a headline about ‘private schools’. Fairfax would do far better to lend its weight to re-generating a sense of urgency about closing the achievement gap.