Guest essay by Eric Worrall
There have been a number of stories recently about how Australian schools are doing wonderful things. Sadly, few of these wonderful things seem to involve educating the nation’s children.
According to Australian SBS;
Australian schools going green to combat climate change
A trial program is hoping to shine the spotlight on schools and show them how they can help to combat climate change.
A Perth high school was the first in Australia to be accredited carbon neutral, but the school still wants to do more.
South Fremantle Senior High School in Perth’s south signed up to the Low Carbon Schools Pilot Program to help reduce its carbon footprint.
Fifteen-year-old Taylah Kippo told SBS News the time to act on climate change was now.
She said she was worried about her own generation, but also the ones after.
“You see the effects of climate change every day in our life now at the moment,” she said.
“You see it in many other countries including Australia in areas like farming and many different areas from the changing of the climates.
“It’s not good.”
Fellow Year 10 student Lauren Hunter said her school, which uses photovoltaic cells and has air conditioners on timers, could do more.
Read more: http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2015/11/27/australian-schools-going-green-combat-climate-change
Meanwhile, back in the real world, there is worrying news about the quality and standards of Australian Education;
OECD education rankings show Australia slipping, Asian countries in the lead
A new report shows it’s not the wealthiest countries that perform the best, but those that value education the most.
What is happening?
Asian countries are currently in the lead according to the most recent global education rankings published by the Organisation for Economic Development (OECD): Singapore tops the list, followed by Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan.
The ranking was devised by combining the mathematics and science test scores for 15-year-olds across 76 countries, using results from international tests including the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA, 2012) and Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS, 2011).
The mathematics and science rankings are among several tabulated in the report, Universal Basic Skills: What Countries Stand to Gain, in which links between economic growth, social development and educational attainment are explored. OECD director Andreas Schleicher says the analysis encompasses a larger sample of countries than ever before, providing “a truly global scale” of education quality for the first time.
How does Australia fare?
In the latest OECD league table, Australia is ranked 14th behind Poland (11th), Vietnam (12th) and Germany (13th). In other data tabled in the report, Australia ranks 19th for secondary school enrolment rates, behind the United States, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates; and 17th for having the lowest share of students (just under 20 per cent) who have not acquired basic skills. For Singapore and Korea, this figure is under 10 per cent.
Concerning to some, Australia’s performance in the PISA tests, held every three years, has shown a steady decline. In 2000, when the first tests were held, Australia ranked 6th for maths, 8th for science and 4th for reading (out of 41 countries), dropping to 19th for maths, 16th for science and 13th for reading in 2012 (out of 65 countries).
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/oecd-education-rankings-show-australia-slipping-asian-countries-in-the-lead-20150525-gh94eu.html
This is not the first time Australia has had a bad school report. But there is no sign of a change in direction – education standards are still sliding, and green rhetoric is on the rise.
Ignoring normal education standards, while celebrating the conversion of government funded schools into climate madrasas, preaching extreme religious doctrine, is the kind of trend which is normally associated with third world trouble spots, not with a modern country like Australia.
Perhaps if Australian schools put more effort into teaching children basic skills like reading, writing and mathematics, and spent less money, time and effort on useless green gestures, like installing photovoltaics, they could afford to leave the air conditioner switched on. They could use the money they saved to provide a comfortable learning environment, and better quality educational materials for their students.