Australia is ranked #28 in this report*
I think this issue more important than most in Australian educational and community life. Any political or systemic moves to improve educational outcomes are unlikely to be as successful unless addressing early childhood issues. Any Australian educator who reads this report will note the Finnish case study on page 13 with interest and despair. It is hardly surprising that they have such positive outcomes, at the other end of their system, with such professionalism and systemic support towards their youngest. Here’s a quick look if you do not have the time or inclination to read the whole report:
This quote from the opening of the the report says it all:
“It is about those very young children who are going to grow up as successful lifelong learners and citizens making an economic contribution to society,” says Christine Pascal, director of the Centre for Research in Early Childhood (CREC), an independent research organisation. “This is especially so in very unequal societies where you get generational and cyclical repetition of poverty and low achievement.”
That’s what the #Gonski Report concludes.
An aside: This has been an issue of personal and professional interest for some time. Back in 2008, the then Opposition Leader, Mr O’Farrell, visited the preschool my children attended. He was asked some questions by the committee re: his pledge to get ‘the preschool participation rate to 95% during its first term of government’. Re-reading the questions he was given, never answered formally, is instructive after reading the report cited at this post. The ABS provides Experimental Estimates of Preschool Education, Australia. 2011 reveals what a challenge the 2008 goal will provide the current state government.
*The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) was commissioned by the Lien Foundation, a Singapore-based philanthropic organisation, to devise an index to rank preschool provision across 45 countries, encompassing the OECD and major emerging markets.