The Guardian • Issue #1949

Ever increasing precarity for public education amidst TAFE funding cuts and privatisation

  • by E Lennon
  • The Guardian
  • Issue #1949

The Federal Government continues to neglect public Vocational Education and Training, diminishing accessibility for many Australians.

Correna Haythorpe, Federal President of the Australian Education Union, has called for TAFE to be seen as a crucial tool for pandemic recovery.

“Governments must ensure that Australia’s strong TAFE system is properly funded to minimise the economic consequences of the COVID pandemic.”

“TAFE is the best way to ensure that Australians can access a quality and rounded education provided by industry experts, with the extra learning supports in place that make the difference between a student passing or failing a subject.

“Therefore, it is unbelievable that the Productivity Commission would recommend increased contestability and force TAFE to compete as ‘just another provider’ in the marketplace, when TAFE generates a staggering $92.5 billion in economic benefits each year, which is 16 times the annual cost of running the institution.”

The Productivity Commission is a body overseen by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg. It is plain to see the vested interest coming from the Liberals, justifying their corporate sympathies and entanglement through the recommendation of privatisation and funding cuts.

The TAFE campus in Scone, NSW, one of the most advanced and well-equipped, has been sold off. Micheal Johnsen, Nationals MP for Upper Hunter, failed to stand with the community and instead publicly endorsed the sale against their interests and benefit.

President of NSW Teachers’ Federation, Angelo Gavrielatos, has pointed to TAFE NSW’s failure to confer with staff, students and the local community on the matter.

Mr Gavrielatos said:

“For the past six years, the NSW government has deliberately allowed enrolments at Scone TAFE to run down so it can claim the site is under-utilised and the sale is in the public interest.”

“Training facilities like this are hard to replace and we’re just incredulous the Government wants to sell Scone TAFE when it is vital to the training needs of the community.”

Public education should not concern private businesses in any aspect, the resources and campuses designated for the benefit of all Australians should remain just that: for the soul purpose of accessibility.

Education must not be considered a commodity to be sold off for the Australian government’s agenda.

These are sentiments underscored in our Party’s Political Resolution.

“The guiding principle and aim of the education system must be the provision of free, universal and secular public education for all children from pre-school through to post-secondary, to produce a highly educated and cultured society.”

“The same principle must be applied in the provision at all levels including university and Technical and Further Education (TAFE), which must be restored after a sustained, pro-private attack in the provision of vocational education and training.”

Party policy outlines what an education system that is fair and for all, regardless of socio-economic backgrounds and general circumstances, should compromise of: the abolition of fees, proper funding, universal student unionism, etc.

To support privatised education is to support the denial of opportunities for all citizens to realise their potential–for themselves and the betterment of society.

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