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Australia Needs a Permanent National School Infrastructure Fund



The quality of a child's education should not be determined by their postcode or their parents’ wealth. Yet, across Australia, the physical state of our schools paints a starkly unequal picture. While some students enjoy state-of-the-art facilities, others make do with mouldy bathrooms, broken air conditioners, and classrooms in dire need of repair.


This disparity, highlighted by new AEU State of Our Schools data revealing the rapid decline of public-school infrastructure, is not just a matter of aesthetics; it represents a fundamental failure to invest in the future of all Australian children.


ASPA 2024 National Education Summit

The ASPA 2024 National Education Summit, considered this issue in detail.  Input from those attending underscored the urgent need for a national conversation on equitable funding and its direct impact on educational outcomes. It does not pass the pub test that any public funding would prioritise upgrading already well-resourced schools while many others struggle to provide even the most basic amenities and learning environments.

 

A permanent national school infrastructure fund, a key recommendation arising from the summit, offers a pragmatic and impactful solution. This fund, established through combining new and existing contributions from both federal and state governments, would prioritise funding allocation based on need, regardless of whether a school is public, private, or independent.


Perhaps some of the dividends from Australia's sovereign wealth fund, currently managing over $285 billion, could help establish a warchest to speed things up.


This approach ensures that every Australian child, regardless of background or location, has access to a safe, healthy, and conducive learning environment.



Investing in school infrastructure is not merely about bricks and mortar; it's about investing in our collective future.  Well-maintained schools attract and retain quality teachers, support student engagement and achievement as a most basic foundation, and ultimately contribute to better educational outcomes for all.

 

We need a national commitment, backed by sustained funding, to ensure that every school in Australia becomes a hub of opportunity, fostering the potential of every student.  Let's prioritise a National School Infrastructure Fund to build and maintaing amazing schools for our children and young people attend, starting with those who need it most.


-Andy Mison

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