Australia’s ‘disaster’ in Education

I have just finished reading this article from The Age newspaper labeling Australia’s education system as a ‘disaster.’

Below is my response to the article that states our system is failing behind the much more successful systems of Asia- including Singapore:

Are we really measuring our education system’s success solely based on a one off test of our students’ scores in Reading, Maths and Science?
What is the purpose of education? Is it to do well on tests or to be happy and successful (in anyway you define that) in life?
Where was the test on our students’ 21st century skills? Their ability to communicate, collaborate and create? These are the skills I would look for in a person I am employing.  Sure I want basic literacy and numeracy skills but their EQ (emotional intelligence) is just as important, if not more important than their IQ.

I am not comfortable comparing our students’ scored to those of students in Singapore- a country that streams its students from year 6. Are our politicians and decision makers aware that Singapore students are taught for five and a half years and then given 6 months of straight test prep before their life defining streaming test in yr 6? Are our politicians and decision makers aware that these students undergo hours and hours of outside tuition in order to do well on such tests. And speaking of funding, parents in Singapore are doing the funding! They are spending as much as $2000 a month on outside tuition for their children. How can we compare our schooling system to theirs when a large part of their schooling doesn’t even actually happen at school?
As they say not all that can be tested counts and not all that counts can be tested.

I would like to suggest to politicians, policy makers and the author of the article that they read Yong Zhao’s work on redefining ‘success’ in education. As Dr Zhao states, a successful education system is not one that spits out identical students at the other end, it is one that prepares all students to be creative and entrepreneurial in an ever changing world. These skills cannot be tested on a pen and paper test such as TIMSS, PISA or NAPLAN.

It is time we, as a nation, collectively discussed and decided upon what we think is important in education and start to judge our system based on that definition. Being an island country disconnected from any other county by land I would suggest that Global Competence should feature highly in what we define as a successful education outcome.

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