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Thursday, February 07, 2008

Fail grade for transparency about education funding

In so many fields, recently health, today education, our governments still don't quite get it when it comes to transparency.

Australian governments spend over $30 billion on primary and secondary schools each year. However according to the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) lack of transparency means "the process of school funding, including the way in which amounts are calculated distributed and reported upon, is unavailable not only to the wider public but to some extent even to those working in education. ACER has made a call for a common financial reporting instrument for government and non-government schools based on principles of comparability and transparency" (Download Media Release)

The paper Australia's School Funding System by Dr. Andrew Dowling says that school funding has always to some extent been a political exercise.
"But the school funding debate might rise above a sterile ideological battle if Australia was to have a national and transparent model based on comprehensible measures of need applying equally across the sectors. Such a national model is not foreseeable, at least in the short term.....(S)imply providing information on the actual quantum of resources is a radical proposal at the present time. Not only does this information not exist uniformly but some States are incapable of reporting at the school level".

So $30 billion a year, but we can't tell you how much government money goes to any particular school. Take your pick between 'fail grade' or 'could do much better'.

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