Inner East Review
Tuesday, 5 December 2023

Our children need a better curriculum

By Chetna Mahadik
Updated May 31 2022 - 1:03pm, first published 5:00am
Our children need a better curriculum
Our children need a better curriculum

Our children are coming out of almost two years of interrupted education, remote schooling and complete social isolation. Our children are not OK.

On all the sad metrics relating to mental health - suicides, suicide ideation, self-harm and anxiety disorders - Australians below the age of 25 are doing poorly and the pandemic has grossly exacerbated what was already a downward trajectory on mental health.

Educationally as well, their performance is dropping dramatically. In 2003, Australian children scored 520 in Maths (ranked 10th in the world), 527 in Science (ranked 8th) and 528 in Reading (ranked 4th) in the Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA tests as they are popularly known. In 2018, that result had dropped to 494 in Maths (ranked 25th), 510 in Science (ranked 14th) and 503 in English (ranked 16th). And this year, for the first time, the proportion of Year 12 students in the country studying the highest level of Maths is below 10 per cent.

So how does our new National Curriculum plan to stem the fall? By getting Year 1 students "creating and performing addition and subtraction stories told through First Nations Australians' dances". I kid you not! It is listed on Page 13 of the Maths curriculum.

I don't have a problem with counting, dances or Indigenous culture and history. I welcome them all. But by combining them in this trivial manner, we just ensure that our children learn none of the three things properly.

It is only a matter of time before Australians realise their children are being cheated out of a decent education,

  • Chetna Mahadik is communications manager, Institute of Public Affairs