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A few ideas on how to arrest our freefalling education system

By Graham Young - posted Thursday, 28 December 2023

One step forward and two steps back is the best summary of Australia's results in the latest Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).

The step forward was that we actually moved forward one place in the world-from 10th to 11th-with the backward steps being a continued deterioration in our results.

So, we're not quite as good as we were, but we pulled ahead of most of the others, and 10th is not too bad. Should we be worried?


Yes, yes, and yes.

There is a relationship between education, and national wealth; between education, and personal standing, and satisfaction with life; and between education, and how well a society works.

In other words, education is important to physical, social, emotional, and community welfare.

And that's not just hyperbole. I ran some regression analyses, and the time spent in school is a major factor behind 71 percent of the relative productivity of countries, 54 percent of their happiness, and a whopping 95 percent of how democratic they are.

(The last figure makes me wonder whether the deterioration we are seeing in the standard of democracy is related in some way to the deterioration in the standard of education).



And performance ought to matter just for its own sake. It does when it comes to sport. Remember the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal where we failed to win a single gold medal?

The country went into virtual mourning which was only relieved when our athletic prowess was regenerated by the creation of the Australian Institute of Sport.

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A slightly edited version of this article was published by the Epoch Times.

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About the Author

Graham Young is chief editor and the publisher of On Line Opinion. He is executive director of the Australian Institute for Progress, an Australian think tank based in Brisbane, and the publisher of On Line Opinion.

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