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Opinion/Commentary

New South Wales and Victoria’s premiers promise free pre – K

Children eating at a table in childcare
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In two Australian States, early childhood education could get a shake up.

The Premiers of New South Wales and Victoria are promising free Pre – K for four – year – old children. It will take place five days a week.

Victoria’s Premier, Daniel Andrews plans to implement the change by 2025. However, NSW Premier, Dominic Perrotet won’t implement the change until 2030.

In a joint statement, the premiers said:

It will mean that, in the next 10 years, every child in Victoria and NSW will experience the benefits of of a full year of play-based learning before the first year of school.

The premiers also claim that free Pre – K will not only benefit children, but also working parents.

Pre – K will take place in preschools in both states.

NSW Minister for Education and Early Learning, Sarah Mitchell said the policy was… “the right thing to do for our kids”.

Australian children need better in education

According to Sydney Morning Herald, Australian children aren’t doing well in education.

Australia ranks 32 out of 38 OECD countries in child well – being. Australia ranks 39 out of 41 European Union (EU) and OECD in education outcomes.

Standards in literacy, numeracy and science have been declining over the past decade.

Early childhood education is shown to improve education outcomes. Children can experience these benefits across their schooling.

Education psychologist, Claire Rowe expressed concerns to Andrew Bolt about making Pre-K compulsory.

However, she did point out one positive. Children who come from dysfunctional families will be able to find security and attachment with early childhood educators.

Children who live in poverty will benefit greatly from free Pre – K.

The economic burden early childhood education had on parents

One reason why there’s a push to make Pre – K free is to release the burden from parents. Too often, the cost of early childhood education cancels out any financial benefit of working.

So offering some relief to parents makes sense.

Will it be compulsory?

According to the ABC, neither premier is planning to make Pre – K compulsory. Of course that can change in the future. Frankly, I doubt it ever will be.

Good start, but more needs to be done

I think this announcement is a vote grab for next year’s state elections. Having said that, I don’t have anything against free Pre – K. If it helps children and unburdens parents, then great.

However, I think there are bigger issues facing early childhood centres nationwide. Like children left hungry or given poor quality food in early childhood education centres.

So, let’s get the standards of quality early childhood education up again. Make sure that all early childhood education centres are properly staffed.

The governments need to make sure all early childhood education centres have the resources – including funding for food – that they need.

Let’s not have early childhood educators buried in endless paperwork. Just allow them to nurture and educate the children. And, of course, they need to be paid properly.

What are your thoughts on free Pre -K? Good idea? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Categories
Opinion/Commentary

More people choosing to study humanities despite price hike

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More Australian students are applying for humanities degrees, despite price hikes that the Coalition government implemented in 2020.

Sydney Morning Herald reported a nine per cent rise in admissions for humanities. Some people choose these courses simply because of personal interest.

Australia National University (ANU) higher education policy professor, Andrew Norton criticised Coalitions’ push toward certain courses:

Why would you do something that doesn’t interest you, just to have (A)$10,000 to $30,000 [debt] over a lifetime? Even though it hasn’t changed the choices of prospective students it does mean they’ll have many extra years of HELP [Higher Education Loan Program] repayments.

Coalition raised humanities fees during pandemic

In response to COVID in 2020 – 2021, the Coalition Government shook up university course fees.

The (supposed) aim was for future students to choose ‘job ready’ courses. As a result, degrees fees for courses, including teaching, clinical psychology and nursing decreased 42 per cent.

However, other courses’ fees skyrocketed. Humanities and Communications went up 113 per cent. Law degrees went up 28 per cent.

One of the reasons why fees to degrees like Arts rose so drastically was because Government contribution to the fees had plummeted.

How did universities view the changes?

Opinions on these changes varied among universities. Regional universities favoured the changes, largely because the Coalition Government dedicated 3.5 per cent increase in funding. As a result, more student places were available.

Many universities showed mild concern. However, no university wanted to rock the boat by protesting, due to wanting the funding increase.

Was this an attack on free speech?

Were these changes simply about funding courses based on need? Maybe. I think it was a bit more sinister.

The hikes in fees aimed courses that often explore sociology, culture and politics.

And, university politics are seen as far left-leaning. I can’t help this was part of the reason why humanities and Communications wer hit so hard.

Universities have been pressured by the Menzies Institute to be more ‘balanced’ an$ promote Western values.

Now, I can’t say for sure the pressure from the Menzies’ Institute is directly linked to the rises in some fees, but I still wonder. I mean, why not just decrease some fees, but leave the others? This is why I get a niggling that culture wars were a factor in this decision.

Young people already have enough debt

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It’s almost universal that young people in the West will have debts. It might be a car loan, credit cards, and later, house loan and mortgage. Unfortunately, university fees have become another massive debt.

Financial adviser, Max Phelps told news.com.au that while HELP debt was important, so were others. He said that credit cards and personal loans should be given priority over HELP debt

So, what if HELP loans are never paid back? This would backfire on students, universities and the government, wouldn’t it? It’s a no – win situation.

Going back to what Professor Andrew Norton told Sydney Morning Herald, of course students – school leavers and mature – aged students – are always going to choose courses that would interest them. So, the fee rises on Humanities and Communications were for nothing.

What are your thoughts on the fee changes? Fair? Unfair? Let me know what you think below.