In a speech to the National Public Education Forum 27 March 2009, Australian Government Education Minister Julia Gillard described the global financial crisis 'as a reason for investing more in education, not as an excuse for investing less', stressing the importance of education for future economic growth. Other topics covered in the speech included the broad COAG national reform agenda, computers in schools, trade training centres, the teaching of Asian languages, the forthcoming National Curriculum, literacy and numeracy standards, Indigenous students' attainment levels, the Government's school building program, performance reporting and the issue of league tables, and the formula used for ongoing school funding. See the transcript of the Minister's speech, 27 March 2009.
A prominent economist has criticised elements of the Australian Government's funding plan for school upgrades. The extensive funding, to be available to all schools, does not take into account the investment gaps between the Independent and public sectors, according to former World Bank economist Adam Rorris. See article in the Sydney Morning Herald 2 April 2009.
In Britain a report by the Children, Schools and Families Committee of the House of Commons has concluded that there is 'far too much central Government control over the National Curriculum'. The report has found that the National Curriculum has de-skilled the teaching profession. Among other recommendations the Committee has called for the National Curriculum to be slimmed down, and that the freedoms enjoyed by 'Academy' schools in relation to the National Curriculum should be extended to all schools. See the Committee's media release 2 April 2009.
The South Australian Secondary Principals Association has called for more financial support to schools to pay for computer infrastructure. It says that further funds are needed to install cabling, power points or wireless Internet connections for computers received through the Australian Government's National Secondary School Computer Fund. See report in The Advertiser (Adelaide Now) 2 April 2009.
A free home-based program run by Macquarie University researchers aims to help primary-age children in rural areas learn new skills to manage anxiety. Parents and children are offered self-help materials and regular telephone contact with a psychologist. The service is open to children aged eight and above. See media release, Macquarie University, 25 February 2009.
In Victoria the inaugural Wannik Education Scholarships have been announced. The State Government scholarships will help 24 Indigenous students complete their final years of secondary schooling. This year’s recipients are Year 11 students from 19 schools across the State intending to complete their VCE or equivalent. They will each receive $5000. See Victorian Government media statement 2 April 2009.
An Innovation Showcase prepared by Victoria's Department of Education and Early Childhood Development will take place on 15 May 2009. The event provides an opportunity for educators to meet with each other, and to speak with innovators. Participants can access the event online or face to face.
New school guidelines to help address student behavioural issues before they become broader social problems are to be introduced into Victorian schools. The Effective Schools are Engaging Schools: Student Engagement Policy Guidelines have recently been released by Victorian Education Minister, Bronwyn Pike. See Victorian Government media statement 27 March 2009 and article in The Age 28 March 2009.
Some Queensland non-Government schools allow corporal punishment if parents first sign a waiver. Religious beliefs or the need for boundaries are cited as reasons for the strict policy. Corporal punishment in schools was banned in 1995, but was not written into law. See article in the Courier Mail, 29 March 2009.
The British medical journal The Lancet has published a report on child and maternal health in the Palestinian territory, indicating that the prevalence of stunting in children has increased due to ongoing conflict in the area. The report is one of a series in the journal. See also commentary in The Guardian 5 March 2009.
Southern Sudan has marked the fourth anniversary of the ‘Go To School’ initiative on 1 April, the first day of the new school year in Southern Sudan. See UNICEF media release.
It has been claimed that Australian Catholic schools are discriminating against children from an Eastern Catholic background. The claims, made by Eastern Catholic bishops, have received international attention. See report in The Age 2 April 2009.