Education

The rise of Jeremy Corbyn in Britain and Bernie Sanders in the US has led many to ask where is our Corbyn or our Sanders and to question whether conditions in Australia are ripe for a similar break to the left.

Because Australia was buffered from the worst of the GFC, due mainly to the mining boom, some argue that conditions here may need to get a lot worse before people are prepared to get behind a left platform.

Let’s look at some social indicators in Australia today.

Colombia’s national teachers’ strike marked three weeks on June 1 as tens of thousands of education workers continue to pressure the government to respond to their demands for better working conditions, higher salaries and more investment in public education.

In the latest mass protest, about 300,000 teachers took to the streets on May 31 to call attention to education issues in major cities across the country, including Bogota, Cali, Medellin, Bucaramanga and Barranquilla.

Friends of Victoria University released this statement on April 19.

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Victoria University is planning to fundamentally change the structure of its workforce and radically alter the type of education that students receive.

Up to 115 academic staff will be sacked and replaced by 65 entry-level academic staff (Academic Teaching Scholars). These staff will have increased teaching hours and inferior retrenchment provisions so that they can be easily sacked should there be future cuts at VU.

About 100 members of Fair Go for Pensioners (FGFP) rallied in Melbourne on May 25 to call on political parties to reverse severe funding cuts to welfare, health and education in the federal budget which will condemn more pensioners and low-income families to living below the poverty line. FGFP president Roger Wilson said the budget focus on giving the business sector generous tax cuts came at the expense of slashing services for the most vulnerable — pensioners, low-income families, the unemployed and those fearing homelessness.
Two thousand activists for free and public education gathered in the Indian city of Bhopal on December 4. This meeting was the culmination of a month-long series of marches and public meetings organised by the All India Forum for the Right to Education (AIFRTE). This action, under the banner of the All India Struggle for Public Education (AISSY), has been carried out across all of India’s five geographic regions with the aim to raise public consciousness about the assault on public education by pro-market and religious fundamentalist right-wing forces.
Members of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) and supporters picketed the Bankstown campus of the University of Western Sydney (UWS) on October 30 during a half-day strike, as part of their campaign for a new enterprise bargaining agreement at UWS. This followed a similar strike and picket of the university's Parramatta campus on October 23.
The first stage of the national school curriculum is scheduled to begin in 2011, and not many people are happy about it. The idea of a national curriculum was initially raised by the Hawke Labor government in the late 1980s, and later echoed by Coalition prime minister John Howard.
A survey of 8800 Australian teenagers, carried out over 10 years by La Trobe University, has found that the number of young people having sex has risen. The proportion of sexually active year 12 women who reported having had sex with three or more partners in the previous year more than doubled to 27% in the decade to 2008. Meanwhile, the NSW health department said in September that sexually transmitted infections (STIs), particularly chlamydia, were on the rise.
The Australian federal government spends more money on private schools than most other wealthy countries, and spends less than most on public education. A recent report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, Education at a Glance 2010, showed Australia gave 16.9% of education money to private schools and 71.9% to government schools. The US spends 0.2% and 99.8% respectively. Most money for private school funding comes from the federal government, which argues that “grants” and “subsidies” make private schools more affordable.
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