Budget investment into public education would power Australia’s economic recovery

A new Australian Education Union (AEU) submission to Federal Government has called for significant and ongoing investment into Australia’s public schools, preschools and TAFE system in October’s Federal Budget, to provide decades of equity, opportunity, security and future prosperity for all Australians.

The AEU’s 2020-21 Pre-Budget submission focuses on the important and urgent need for investment in public schools, preschools and TAFE to stimulate Australia’s economic recovery, and details the significant and lasting economic and social benefits that such an investment would bring.

The AEU submission outlines four crucial steps that the Morrison Government must take in its upcoming Budget to drive Australia’s recovery through investment in public education. They are:

  • Lifting the 20% cap on Commonwealth contributions to public schools and funding all public schools to 100% of the Schooling Resource Standard
  • Implementing a significant program of capital works, including ongoing maintenance and new school building for public schools to accommodate enrolment growth and provide deep stimulus to manufacturing, construction and other industries
  • Restoring the billions of dollars cut from TAFE since 2013 and prioritising TAFE as the preeminent public provider of vocational education
  • Provide guaranteed ongoing funding to preschool for four year olds and extend this offering to three year olds nationally

“Public education is the bedrock on which we can build Australia’s economic recovery to secure a better future for all Australians,” AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe said.

“The submission reveals how significant recurrent investment and a bold federal public school capital works program is one of the most effective ways that the Morrison Government could provide substantial stimulus across a number of sectors.”

“The AEU’s submission asserts that this would improve equity in Australia’s education system and provide lasting economic and social benefits for decades to come,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“Additional investment in public education is required to cater for soaring public school enrolments, to provide guaranteed ongoing funding and certainty for preschools, their employees and parents, and to prepare TAFE to provide vocational education for the hundreds of thousands of workers who lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 economic crisis.”

The AEU’s submission draws on recent economic analysis and the recommendations of government commissioned reviews to demonstrate that properly funding and resourcing public education, from the early years through schooling to post-secondary education, provides enormous economic benefit and is essential to fairness, equity, opportunity, security and future prosperity in this country.

“Investing in public schools, preschools and TAFE in the Federal Budget as a core component of the Commonwealth’s recovery strategy would have a profound impact not only for students but for the entire economy,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“Ensuring that every public school receives 100% of the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) is essential for achieving educational equity and improving achievement in Australia. By combining this with a significant public school capital investment program, the Morrison Government has a real opportunity to invest in Australia’s growth and prosperity.”

“A recent report by the Centre for Future Work has revealed that despite years of significant funding pressure and policy failure, the historic and current investment in the TAFE system contributes an estimated $92.5 billion each year to the Australian economy,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“The review of federal preschools funding called for guaranteed ongoing funding for universal access to preschool for four year old children, saying that quality preschool not only makes a significant, long-term difference to educational and other developmental outcomes but also contributes to increased workforce participation and tax revenues, and reduces pressure on education, health and justice budgets.”

“The 2020-21 Federal Budget must provide funding for economic stimulus to help Australia’s post-COVID-19 recovery. This stimulus should be targeted where it can have the most immediate and long term impact–that is, investing in the future of our children by investing in public education,” Ms Haythorpe said.

Note: Click here to read AEU’s pre-Budget submission.