As a little cockney spiv arriving in Australia from East London I never imagined I would ever have a real education. I will be eternally grateful to Gough Whitlam for my free University degree. Unfortunately Australia has regressed to the pre-Whitlam days of rich airheads getting an education while the bright kids from Redfern getting shoved to the bottom of the pile.
Not all rich educated kids are airheads but for the rich it does not matter. Somehow they are dragged screaming through the private school system that has the motto “We have ways of making you learn.” Meanwhile the places where we really need education, in disadvantaged areas where education is the way out of misery, the whole community loses out and misery and ignorance is supreme. It is not ignorance born of stupidity, it is ignorance born from lack of education and opportunity.
If Australia is to progress education must come from the bottom up. Do we need more educated air-heads like Abbott and Hockey while the intelligence of the disadvantaged lies untapped?
Australia was built on brawn not brains. They have been some wonderful Australians who have shown the world our potential, but manual labour was the backbone of the economy. Things have changed. The education level of Australia has to be lifted because we can no longer rely on sheep and digging holes to make us competitive or relevant.
The education debate centres on whether we want more Abbott’s and Hockey’s air head education or do we want an bottom up educated Australia that can hold its own in an educated world.