One thing that has begun to baffle me lately is the great divide between our country’s educational goals for the next generation and many of our government’s policies. Looking at the ‘Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians’ (Dec 2008), authored by the government of the time, we are urged to recognise the central role of education in creating a ‘democratic, equitable and just society’ and ensuring that the next generation are ‘active and informed citizens’.
In our Catholic schools we are committed to this vision through the teaching of our Catholic worldview. We seek to create graduates who are responsible global citizens; who welcome all cultures and support the marginalised, poor and dispossessed. Why then does our government contradict this teaching in their policies?
I recently wrote to both the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition in regard to the current policy on refugees – a prime example of just how poorly our nation is supporting the social formation of tomorrow’s Australians. Indeed Australia has always been known as a country that offers a ‘fair-go’ for all, a value that all schools, not just faith-based ones, are striving to achieve. For how long can Australia truly claim to be a country of equity and opportunity if government policy continues to undermine these core values? While it is true that education has a crucial role in developing moral and just citizens, this must be paired with complementary government policy. Politicians as well as teachers must accept their responsibility in influencing our future leaders, workers and citizens.
Australia’s future and the future of the world, is in the hands of today’s youth – what messages are we sending them?