Australia

Pandemic-polluted future puts school funding under the microscope

Federal funding for non-public schools will increase by 26% over the next three years to reach $ 59 billion. This will be added to the tuition fee.

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In addition to state government funding, public school funding will increase 22% over the same period to a total of $ 40 billion.

Trevor Cobbold of Save Our Schools, a public school lobby group, said the significant increase in funding for private schools “accelerates the long-standing gap in funding between private and public schools over the next decade.” Said that it means.

He said this was the result of several “special funding transactions” by the Morrison government, including selection and affordable funds designed to help Catholic and independent schools keep prices low. I said there is.

Julie Sonnemann, Deputy Program Director of School Education at the Grattan Institute, said the fund should be abolished.

“It’s a shame to see a $ 1.2 billion slush fund going on for non-public schools,” she said.

Meanwhile, the independent school Victoria has expressed concern about the financial position of some schools.

“The issue of independent school funding may not be apparent until we have a clearer idea of ​​the impact of the recession on student enrollment in 2021,” said CEO Michelle Green. It was.

“We are also concerned about the long-term impact of the federal new school funding model on some schools, which will not be revealed until 2022.”

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Some private schools have already offered rate cuts and postponements and have asked graduates to help pay for students at risk of quitting due to family money pressure.

Recently, dozens of private school principals have warned of the loss of international students, and the recession has faced many schools with “existential challenges”, unemployment and the potential for closure.

The federal government has also promised $ 25 million to “meet the educational priorities that arise from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Ms. Sonnemann suggested that the Victoria State Government should follow suit.

“We want to see if the Victoria State Government is spending new money on COVID catch-ups for schools, especially tutors,” she said.

The budget also showed that non-public schools received over $ 1 billion in prepayments to resume for face-to-face learning during the COVID-19 crisis.

During the first wave of coronavirus, the federal government controversially offered to carry over 25% of its annual funding to an independent Catholic school if it exchanged distance learning for face-to-face education.

While $ 3 billion was offered, last week’s federal budget showed that private schools were paid $ 1 billion to resume face-to-face learning early.

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Madeleine Heffernan is an educational journalist at The Age.

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