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Friday, 22 May 1970

Mr KENNEDY (Bendigo) - Mr Speaker,the Bill involves an increased expenditure for capital grants to the States for the provision of teachers colleges. The increase is to the extent of 25% over the previous triennium, when $24m was offered to the States. Under the provisions of this Bill $30m is to be offered. This assistance will of course toe appreciated by the State governments. However, there are some comments I would like to make about the expenditure and the limitations of expenditure. Something has been said already about the fact that the increase represents a 25% increase over the last 3 years. That is very true. On the other hand, exactly how much does this mean in additional spending power for the States that are receiving this money? I think that is an important issue, because after all the cost of living and, in particular, the cost of building has been skyrocketing over the last 3 years. A good deal of the increased grant to the States would simply cover the increase in the cost of building the colleges. So I do not think a great deal of pride can be taken in this increase in expenditure.

There are some comments I would like to make in reference to the second reading speech of the Minister for Education and Science (Mr N. H. Bowen). On what basis has the grant of $30m for the next 3 years been made? The Minister in his second reading speech said:

This increase is designed to assist the States with their teacher education programmes at a reasonable and realistic level.

I want to know exactly what is meant by the term 'reasonable and realistic'. Is the Minister satisfied with the amount that the States are spending at the present moment? Does he mean by 'reasonable and realistic level' one of these things: A realistic and reasonable level in terms of what the States are prepared to pay; a realistic and reasonable level in terms of what the States are able to pay; or a realistic and reasonable level in terms of what is needed to cope with the vast shortages of teachers in the States? There is obviously a very great need for increased teacher college accommodation in Victoria, because that State is passing through its worst crisis in relation to the provision of teaching staff.

There was in the Melbourne 'Age' on 21st May a report from the Victorian Teachers Union which showed just how severe this crisis would become by the 1970s. I believe that with the present allotment of money by the Commonwealth and the State the students of Victoria simply will not be able to get enough teachers. The article in the Melbourne 'Age' states:

The union estimates that by 1973 teacher colleges will be about 2,000 teachers down on the numbers who should be in training. It warns that the second generation post-war baby boom children - due to hit the schools in the 1970s - will make it impossible for the Education Department to adequately staff schools later in the decade. The union claims the Department needs to start work immediately on at least 4 new teacher colleges to match the expected demand. The secretary of the union's teachers' college staff branch (Mr B. Costin) said yesterday that teacher college enrolments would have to be boosted by 5,500 - to a total of 18,500 trainees - within the next 5 years. Yet the Education Department plans to provide only an extra 1,250 places by 1973,' he said. Present Education Department plans provide for $20 million being spent over five years, but if we are to have any hope of meeting the second baby boom at least $30 million needs to be spent on teacher colleges in the next three years.'

This is the point that I want to make: Exactly what does the term 'reasonable and realistic' mean? I think the only way you could argue that the term has any meaning is to say that it is in comparison with what the State governments need in order to provide sufficient staff. There is another report that points out just what the situation is here. Again it is a report from the Victorian Teachers Union. The situation in Victoria at the present moment is already chronic. There simply is not enough staff. There is not enough qualified staff, and there is not even enough under or unqualified staff. The Victorian Teachers Union made a survey of the position of science and mathematics teachers in Victoria. Incidentally, the union had been informed by the Victorian Education Department that high schools alone in Victoria were short of 250 mathematics and science teachers this year. Those were the official figures; and official figures are quite often somewhat different from figures which are taken unofficially by the professional organisations. The VTU gave an estimate that in fact the shortage was 450 teachers. This indicates what the present situation is. It is a fact - I have seen it myself - that throughout Victoria there are science and maths classes that do not have a teacher at all. There are some that do not have enough teachers, and many of the teachers are not fully qualified. This is a very important point at all levels of secondary education, whether it is at the first form or at the sixth form. There are classes that are overcrowded by 30 or 40 at first form level, and it is simply impossible these days for those children to be taught. When a matriculation class has 20 or 30 more students than it should have, the effect on the child being taught in that class is disastrous. His chances of succeeding in the education system are tremendously reduced. So that is an explanation of what the situation is like in Victoria already. I would like the Minister for Education and Science to tell me exactly what is meant by the term 'reasonable and realistic'.

The Minister stated in his second reading speech:

The amounts set out in the schedule to the Bill were determined after due consideration of the many important factors involved.

He stated that these are the following: The population of each State; the amount available to each State in the current triennium - I think he means by this the amount that the States have available already - and the amount of matched assistance that New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania are receiving for teacher education in Colleges of Advanced Education. The fourth point seems to be that the overriding considerations have been the needs of the States and the effectiveness of grants in meeting these needs. To deal with the last one first, what exactly are these needs? On what system does the Commonwealth Government plan ahead? Does it plan ahead at all? Has it got before it - and if so how long has it had before it - a scheme of exactly what the needs of a State of Australia will be for the next 3 years, 5 years or 10 years? Do we have any such figures? Have proposals been put forward by the States?

I believe that there have been investigations by the various State governments, and I believe that these reports have been presented to the Commonwealth Governmnt But the point there is that we as an Opposition are not in the position where we can say to the Miniser: 'Look, we do not agree that this should be', or, 'That is fair enough'. If we do not have a more reasoned argument as to the needs of the States, how can we do our job as the Opposition? It is not just good enough to write a bland statement and say: The overriding considerations have been the needs of the States and the effectiveness of grants in meeting these needs.' I think we have every right to be told in more detail exactly what the needs are. It is just not right to expect that the decisions which will affect the Australian people as a whole should be made entirely and solely by the Government. We have every right to speak up for the people in case the Government is not doing the job properly. The Opposition and the people of Australia simply are not told what the situation is. Unfortunately, this has happened far too much. It happens for too much in the States of Australia and it happens far too much in the Commonwealth. All that we are told is that expenditure has increased by such and such a figure over the last few years. Expenditure will multiply by such and such a figure over the next few years. But rarely are the Australian people told exactly what the need is and what has to be done. Unfortunately, too often we fall back on the old argument and say that there are great needs, unspecified as they are, and the only way to deal with them is to provide the finance through extra taxation. If the Government is prepared to say to the Australian people: 'We need X qualified teachers if we are to give every young Australian child the full opportunuity to develop his innate potentiality' and if it is prepared to argue this way for 3 years, the Australian people will not object to an increase in taxation if there are no other means of raising revenue. The Minister also said:

The need to improve the quality of the teaching force is central to the task of improving the quality of education generally, and these grants will enable the States to provide new and replacement teachers, educational facilities, and a good deal earlier than they could hope to do from their own resources.

If this is the case why is it that so many of the teachers organisations throughout Australia are complaining regularly and loudly that their standards are not being maintained, that not enough teachers are being trained and that, as there are insufficient teachers, more people are being brought in from outside to do a job which should be reserved for professional people. As this happens, the standard of teaching drops. And as the standard of teaching drops the status of the teacher drops, and it becomes a vicious circle.

Why is it, if the aim behind the Commonwealth's expenditure on education is to improve the quality of the teaching force, that these organisations are complaining consistently? It is not just a matter of providing more teachers colleges. The Minister made some reference to the fact that the Commonwealth does spend money in other areas of education as well. That is quite true. It spends money on colleges of advanced education and universities. But he made the rather strange statement that the Commonwealth shares fully with the States. How one shares fully with the States I do not know, particularly in view of the obnoxious convention in reference to the provision of finances. I refer especially to the requirement by the Commonwealth that the major items of recurrent expenditure must be borne by the States. It does not matter whether it is for colleges of advanced education, teachers colleges, universities, or what it is, as long as the Government continues with this very difficult regulation that the States shall provide so much it will continue to have trouble. As I say, it is not good enough simply to provide extra finances for teachers colleges. We have to ensure that the existing facilities outside teachers colleges are fully used. Unfortunately, over the last few years there has been a shameful history of exclusion of people from universities and colleges of advanced education. We simply cannot get enough people trained and qualified to undertake teaching while the continual rationing of education in colleges of advanced education and universities continues.

There is one other problem about the Bill and that is that it is concerned solely with the provision of capital expenditure. Is is not about time that the Commonwealth sat down and started to survey the field of teacher education as a whole instead of just nibbling at one section of it - the provision of capital expenditure? Should it not start to implement some of the suggestions contained in the Martin report? After all, the Commonwealth has already infringed State rights - if that is the argument to be used to keep the Commonwealth out of teacher education policy - in the assistance it gives to colleges of advanced education and universities. Why do we not have a full scale tertiary education policy, not just one policy for one section and one for another section but for the 3 as a whole? Why have we not some sort of policy that embraces the whole system and some nationally organised body that could look at the whole 3 and say: Things are going well in this area. Things are not going quite so well in that area. In this area teacher education needs a special boost along.'? I do not know how that sort of co-ordination takes place, if it does take place. On what basis does the Commonwealth decide that universities at the present moment should have their finances depressed and colleges of advanced education have theirs boosted, while the teacher training institutions remain at a virtually static level? What sort of policy have we for supervising and co-ordinating the whole field of tertiary education? I think it is about time we did that. I think it is about time that we implemented some aspects of the Martin report.

Should the Commonwealth Parliament not be telling those States which are still laggard in implementing sections of the Martin report - for example with reference to autonomy for teachers colleges and a teacher education board - what to dcr? What are we doing to accelerate the movement by States to sever the teacher education authorities from the State departments? I do not think that we are doing enough. There has been some movement recently. In Victoria the Government, just about on the eve of an election, set out to introduce some changes. Those changes were not carried through. It is a testimony to the insignificance of teacher education. As it is, the propositions being put forward by the Victorian Government on the autonomy of teacher training institutions are a sham.

It is not being done in the true spirit of the Martin report. It is not a full scale autonomy.

There is one other aspect that we have to look at if we are to get teachers and hold on to them. We have to make their jobs as rewarding as possible. We should be providing all the facilities necessary to ensure that they get continued in-service training. The in-service training in Australian education systems is really a mockery. I understand that in the Victorian Education Department the amount that the Department spends on in-service training is equivalent to $1 a head. The amount of knowledge that a teacher has to absorb is accelerating every year. It embraces not just the subject matter that he is teaching; it embraces the method by which he is teaching, and the philosophy, psychology and practice of education. The teacher must keep up with all these things if he is to be an effective teacher. It costs thousands of dollars to train him. The way in which throughout this nation the intelligence and the resources of teachers are not being fully applied is incredible.

I want to deal with one other matter that concerns the Commonwealth. I spoke last night about external courses in Victoria and I said that it was most important that the facilities for external courses in that State be improved. One of the main reasons why country education is not comparable with city education and why the country student has only half the opportunity that the metropolitan student has to go to a university is that teachers in country areas suffer from discrimination. Teachers have to be encouraged to go to country areas and they have to be encouraged to stay there. At the present moment many teachers are reluctant to go to country areas because they cannot continue their education there. Some of them leave their country schools because they cannot continue their education. There are simply not enough facilities provided for external courses in Victoria. The country student is the victim of that policy.

I want to give the House a comparison of the situation in relation to external courses in Victoria. I would like to go into a little bit more detail on what I was speaking about last night.

Mr Brown - What was that?

Mr KENNEDY - The honourable member can read it in Hansard. If we take the figures for 1969 we will see that in Victoria 178 students did external courses, in New South Wales the figure was 3,478, in Queensland it was 2,521, in South Australia it was 166, in Western Australia it was 309, and in Tasmania it was 167. If New South Wales can provide this sort of service to people outside the metropolitan area, including sick people, I believe that there will be hundreds of teachers - I am referring particularly to country teachers - who will be only too willing to take up courses if they are offered in Victoria.

We must look at what has been happening in New South Wales where the University of New England specialises in external courses. Firstly, I refer to what has been happening in Victoria over the last 3 years. The number of external courses being undertaken there has dropped. The number of external courses offered in 1967 was 360. In 1968, it was 245. In 1969, the figure was 178. All that we have so far for 1970 is an estimate. The estimate is that in Victoria, 185 external courses will be available in 1970, 190 in 1971 and 205 in 1972. It is when we compare this situation with the position in New South Wales that we see just how desperate it is.

A proposition has been put forward by the Victorian Government that $100,000 should be expended to increase the number of courses for external students. The offer has been made to Monash University. I point out that, at this stage, Monash University has not made any specific official statement on the subject as far as I can see. But a report in the Melbourne 'Age' of 19th May states that the request to provide these external courses was not received well at the University. The report continues:

The feeling among staff is that external studies will be more of a burden than an acquisition. The University has no building to use as an external study centre - it would need about $500,000 to set up suitable accommodation.

Honourable members can see that an offer of $100,000 in Victoria is not likely to warm the cockles of the heart of Monash University because such an offer does not deal with one of the most important problems which is the provision of a building to provide this service. I wish to make one further point about this amount of $100,000. It is this: The $100,000 may attract a matching grant from the Commonwealth Government and, as far as I can see, the Commonwealth subsidy would be $54,054 on the basis of a Commonwealth contribution of $1 for every $1.85 provided by the State. But the impression I have is that the granting of this extra money to Victoria will not be automatic by any means. I believe that the payment of this money would need to be approved by this Parliament through the passage of a Bill.

Exactly what benefit will be provided by this grant of $100,000, assuming that it attracts a Commonwealth grant? The formula adopted by the Australian University Commission for comparing categories of students in part time and external courses is that an external student attracts a recurrent expenditure of half that of a full time student. The 1965 formula provided a payment of $1,200 for a full time student. Half of that expenditure of course would be $600. I think one would need to add an increase of about 4% per annum since 1965 to that figure. So, the cost of each external student would be $700. In other words, $700 would be provided towards the cost of educating each student in the chosen external course.

If the $100,000 offered by the Victorian Government is to attract the Commonwealth grant and if Monash University finds the offer acceptable - this does not seem to be the case so far - taking the 1965 calculation of $600 per external student, we discover that the number of additional students able to undergo external courses through Monash University would be 256. Taking the 1970 calculation which gives a cost of $700 per student, we find that this means that only 220 extra students would be able to do external courses through that University in Victoria.

Exactly what impact does this have on the problem of country teachers in particular? I am referring here not simply to teachers at Government schools but also to teachers at private schools. Much play was made last night to the effect that state aid per capita is a big thing. But what we tend to overlook is that private schools are just as desperately in need of additional facilities to improve the qualifications of their teachers as is the State school system. What effect would this increase in the number of students taking external courses in Victoria have? The estimate that has been provided for this year shows that the number of students taking external courses in Victoria is 185. I do not have the exact figures. This is the estimate as set out by the Australian Universities Commission. If we add to that figure the 220 students who could be trained at $700 per head on a grant of $100,000 from the Victorian Government and a matching grant from the Commonwealth Government, we find that the total number of students who could be educated in external courses in Victoria this year is 405.

Honourable members can see that this is simply not adequate when considered against the scale of the problem. This is especially so when we compare these figures with the figures for New South Wales. This year, the estimated numbers of external course students in New South Wales is 3,930. Let us suppose that we add the estimated number of extra students for 1971 to the already estimated figure at this time. That figure is 190. All that we can expect at the present moment in Victoria is that the number of external students will increase in the next year by only 5 on the number enrolled this year. The total number of students undertaking external courses next year would be 410. I compare this with the estimated figure for New South Wales which is 4,305. Another fundamental question arises here. So far, Monash University has not made any official statement as far as I can recognise - all we have had are comments from around the campus - as to whether Monash University will accept this grant-

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Order!I point out that this is a Bill relating to universities. The purpose of the Bill is to grant financial assistance to the States for the purposes of building projects in connection with teachers colleges. Only passing references to universities are in order.

Mr KENNEDY - That is very true, Mr Deputy Speaker. What we are concerned with here is teachers colleges. I am talking about the general conditions under which teachers are being trained. But the subject of teachers colleges is one aspect only of the matter. It is not good enough just to train people. The other aspect must be looked at also. I refer to those people who are already teaching in classrooms.

These people want further training. Mow are we to give them this training? What I am talking about is the situation in Victoria. Let me revert briefly to what I was saying before. Monash is very unenthusiastic about this grant. The University has no external study centre. It would need about $500,000 to set up suitable accommodation. That is the reason why it is unenthusiastic. We cannot offer a University $100,000 - whatever the Commonwealth: matching grant may be - and say: 'Right.. Go ahead and find $500,000'. Every University in Victoria has been starved of funds for development in the next 3 years. Obviously, these Universities are not willing to take on any additional project such as the one proposed at Monash. I have raised this subject because I believe that a desperate need exists for a boost in the number of people taking external courses, especially teachers and, in particular again, those teachers who are living in country areas. I think that this is the only way in which we will ensure that teachers in rural areas and country students will get a fair deal.

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