HSV Submissions – March 2008

Education Revolution

Submitted 22 March 2008 to the Federal Minister for Education and Deputy Prime Minister

To the Federal Minister for Education, the Hon. Julia Gillard, HSV made the following points:

  1. We congratulate the Government on its approach taken in the ‘education revolution’.
  2. Humanists believe that education is a national investment, not a private benefit; equity of access to education underpins the concept of democracy; and free, universal and secular education is a hallmark of a civilised society.
  3. High quality early education is of paramount importance in personal development. Thus, we applaud the inclusion of preschools in the formal education system.
  4. We support a national curriculum for major subjects and are pleased with the stated aim of developing the ability for critical analysis in secondary students.
  5. The present funding inequities between public and private schools are indefensible: 70 per cent support the 32 per cent attending private schools. This is a major social injustice, and we urge the Government to adjust it to fairer proportions.
  6. We are concerned about the erosion of confidence in public schools caused by poor amenities due to gross under-funding and Mr Howard’s remark that it is “a values-neutral area”.
  7. Unequal opportunities in education cause social exclusion, polarisation and create an ‘upstairs-downstairs’ society. This must be urgently countered, lest it become entrenched and accepted in Australian society.
  8. The proposed government funding of Christian chaplains in public schools violates the principles of secular education and our constitutional separation of State and Church. Specially trained school welfare officers should be available to advise students on personal problems.
  9. Humanists advocate the teaching of Comparative Belief Systems to engender understanding, tolerance of diversity and harmonious participation in our multicultural community. This, in our view, is education at its best.
  10. We quote a letter to The Age where the reverend Dr Bob Fraser advocates ‘a broadly multi-faith education curriculum’.
  11. We believe that secular moral education should be a core subject, in which personal and social obligations are stressed, along with the universal values of liberty, equality, tolerance and respect for others. This should be taught by teachers who are independent and free from sectarian dogma.

Published: Victorian Humanist, April 2008: 4

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