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Tuesday, 30 October 2012
Page: 12537


Ms O'NEILL (Robertson) (14:16): My question is to the Prime Minister. Why is winning the education race important for winning the economic race in the Asian century, and will the Prime Minister outline the government's plan for doing exactly this?

Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:16): I thank the member for Robertson for asking me a question which is central to this nation's future—a question about education. I do note that the opposition member to first raise a question in question time today was the shadow minister for education but the only thing we never hear from him about is education.

It remains undoubtedly true that if we are to win the economic race in this century of change, this Asian century of growth, then we must win the education race. We cannot have the high-skill, high-wage jobs that we seek for our nation's future unless the children who are studying in Australian classrooms today get a great education which gives them the capabilities they need to navigate the era in which they will live. That is why we set three very clear goals as part of our plan for Australia's future in the white paper which we released: Australia in the Asian century.

First, we want to see Australia's schooling as one of the top five schooling systems in the world. That means that we have got some work to do. Whilst we have a good schooling system, in the standards of the world we have been slipping behind, and this is not a race that we can afford to lose. So we are determined to drive the quality of schooling around the country for every child in every school. We have therefore moved beyond the old politics of division in education based on school sector and moved to working on the education of every child in every school. Our National Plan for School Improvement, which will be associated with the funding reforms that we are working on with the states and territories' independent and Catholic school systems, will have this drive to be amongst the world's best embedded in it.

Second, we also want all students to have the opportunity to undertake a continuous course of study in an Asian language throughout their school years. We have identified as priorities Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian and Japanese, and we will embed this in our school reform agenda and new funding arrangements. Third, we will ensure that we integrate Asia across all of the subjects of the curriculum through our world-leading new national curriculum.

We know that this Asian century is real, it is changing and it is complex. I want our nation to be a winner in this century. What that means is that I want every child to win a great education, and we are determined to ensure that that happens.