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Friday, 22 May 1970

Mr BRYANT (Wills) - The honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) finished so quickly that he took me by storm. I thought he would probably have had about another 50 teachers colleges built by this. I sympathise with the honourable member for Mallee in the remarks that he has made. But it is odd that he has supported for all these years the type of party which does nothing about the political policies that he espouses. I am astonished that he has sat with such a party for so long. Why does he not come over to our side and adopt a more sensitive policy about these matters? While he was talking with what one might call a measure of sense, I am quite confident that he wanted to get his remarks into the 'Bulletin', the Daily Mail', the 'Sunraysia Times' or some other such publication. That was his contribution to the debate on this education Bill. He made a remark about the generosity of the Government's approach to teachers colleges. They are to receive $10m each year for 3 years. It is spread over a nation in which the greatest professional demand is probably for teachers. The Bill does not seem to me to be generous, at least not when compared to the approach of this Government in so many other matters.

The Coburg Teachers College, which is in my electorate, is mentioned in the Bill, so I am able to be parochial today. Of course, I think it is important that we do something about areas such as that. It is too late to worry about decentralising educational institutions when we have managed to centralise all the people in the industries. Coburg Teachers College is a major educational institution, but nobody would think so when driving past it. It is one of the products of the Victorian humble attitude towards building standards. It is a well-kept building and is in open grounds. But it has been waiting for years for decent playing facilities around it. I do not think it has such facilities as extra gardening staff. Quite an amount of labour is involved in maintaining the place as a respectable looking institution.

Mr Crean - One can tell it from the gaol.

Mr BRYANT - That is right. It is different from the gaol against which property it abuts. It has 660 students and has 2 year and 3 year courses. The honourable member for Mallee and the honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr Brown), who seems to be the prince of complacency in this place when it comes to any matter of consideration, ought to examine whether these meagre amounts and this meagre approach by the Commonwealth will solve the education crisis. I represent the areas of Brunswick and Coburg. There are 26 primary, secondary and technical State schools in the area. It is my firm conviction that every child in those State schools is served worse with educational and teaching facilities than back in the 1930s. In the 1930s, when I taught in some of those classes for a short period, every teacher before the class was qualified. Every teacher in the high schools was qualified with degrees and diplomas. At the present moment in most of the schools a large number of classes are facing unqualified teachers. So I ask myself when this measure is before the House whether it will solve that problem.

This afternoon 1 have undertaken to the Leader of the House (Mr Snedden), who is extraordinarily co-operative at the moment, that 1 will not take my full time in this debate. But I want to place on record some facts. Do not, for heavens sake, let us become complacent about education, whether it is in Victoria or anywhere else. We have a teacher crisis on our hands. There are shortages of places in teachers colleges. I have here an article from the Sydney Sun' of January 1970 headed '2,000 Miss Out! Teacher-training scholarships'. Will this Bill before the House solve this problem? My colleague, the honourable member for Barton (Mr Reynolds), pointed out that there is a piece-meal and dilatory approach to the question of education. The teacher is the key to future education. There are population pressures on the education system. But in areas such as mine there are higher educational aspirations which are imposing the greatest possible demand on higher education facilities, that is. at the senior secondary level and at the tertiary level.

It has always been my disappointment that education planners and the census people and others have never been able to sense the higher level of education aspiration which one may find in the parent body in areas such as mine. About 10 years ago there were some 34 people doing matriculation in the suburb of Coburg. This year the figure is up towards 200. That, of course, is part of the immeasurable social statistics, but it is one of which anyone with any social sensitivity at all would have been conscious long since this. A teacher crisis is with us. lt is recognised everywhere, lt is important that this Parliament turn more attention to it. I continually read in the newspaper such headlines as these:

Parents want new training for teachers.

Terrible mess in teacher training.

Teachers should be trained to the highest level.

These are continuing sequences of newspaper items over the last 12 months or so. No measure of complacency from the opposite side of the House can show that we are in any way solving these problems. The teacher is the most important functionary in the school. Certainly each child is important, but without the trained and effective teacher the education system collapses. Are these measures and is the attitude expressed in the second reading speech of the Minister for Education and Science (Mr N. H. Bowen) going to solve some of the problems, such as the need for raising the level of professionalism of teachers. I have here an article from the Bulletin' written by Mr Fitzgerald, the Chief Research Officer of the Australian Council of Educational Research. I suggest that members ought to examine it very thoroughly. He points out that teachers are in a disadvantageous position not only financially but socially and as far as their professional qualifications and training are concerned. He states:

Teachers, of course, do not enjoy such an advantageous position as their medical counterparts. While being harassed from without, they have become subject to growing internal doubts about the value and relevance of much of what schools have traditionally done.

This, of course, is one of the principal disabilities from which the educational system is presently suffering. I think the situation in Victoria is relevant because a fair measure of this money is to go to Victoria, Victoria will receive some $9m or $10m for its half a dozen colleges, 2 of which are associated with universities. I believe, therefore, that some discussion of university education is relevant at this point, although I do not propose to embark upon such a discussion. In Victoria there is a growing discontent in the teaching service. A couple of years back some teacher recruiters, one might call them, arrived in Australia from Montreal. They visited New Zealand; they went to Tasmania; they came to Melbourne; and they went on to Sydney. I went in and saw them at their place in Melbourne. They were surprised and gratified at the response they received in New Zealand. But this is what they were to expect. They were surprised and gratified enough in Tasmania. They were overwhelmed in Melbourne. They were absolutely astonished by the number of teachers who wanted to leave the Victorian teaching service. A number of Victorian teachers have of course crossed the Pacific and ended up in Canada. This is one of the facts of life. In the moments that are allowed me this afternoon at a time such as this when one is full of the cooperative spirit, I can only pose the question: Do these measures in any way help to fill the bill? Several other matters were raised here this afternoon. I think we ought to challenge the attitude of the honourable member for Diamond Valley on the question of bonded teachers. If he took the trouble of studying the policy of the Australian Labor Party on teacher training and education, he would find that some years ago it was resolved that no teachers ought to be bonded.

I am a product of the bonded teacher training system myself, both before the Second World War in primary education and after the war during the reconstruction training scheme. I found there were not very many other places that I could go for work. 1 found it an affront to my personal esteem to be bonded in that way. 1 can think of no reason why teachers should be placed in a different position from all other people who go through universities doing medicine, law, engineering, architec ture, some of them on Commonwealth scholarships and others paying their own way. I think that the average university student who is paying his own way, certainly at the Australian National University, would be costing the community more than the average teacher going through the Victorian Teachers College. I do not have the figures with me at the moment but I have an idea that the cost of teacher training is between one-half and one-third of the cost of ordinary professional training in the universities. I for one will support any steps that this Government takes to remove the bonding of teachers. As a professional group they are entitled to be trained, passed through the system and to go off to teach wherever opportunity or duty calls them. I would regard this step as a pretty important contribution to the professionalism of the Australian teaching services.

There is another question I want to pose and to which we ought to turn our attention: Where are the teachers to come from? There is no doubt that there will be a demand for teachers far beyond the capacity of the secondary schools and far beyond the capacity of the universities to produce from the ordinary student body. It is time we turned our attention to the adults in the community who would like to enter the teaching service. I refer to the women in the community, in particular the married women. The statistics show that this is the largest and greatest area of intellectual wastage in the Australian community. The figures will probably show that there are 40,000 more young men in the Australian universities this year than there are young women. Yet young women have the same intellectual capacity, social characteristics and so on as their brothers. But they have been drop-outs, not because of any lack of intellectual capacity but simply because they happened to be women. They were preceded by similar generations of women who may well be 30 years or 40 years of age but who could well be offered university training at this stage. In a period of 5 years a woman now aged 30, wilh her leaving certificate or even her intermediate certificate, could become a qualified teacher with a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Diploma of Education and have perhaps 30 years professional opportunity before her. From an examination of the general situation (his seems to me to be the only area where there is a large number of people who could be recruited to the teaching services of Australia.

Another question which should be raised is whether teachers colleges should be separate as institutions from universities. Honourable members will notice from the Schedule that 2 teachers colleges are associated geographically. I refer to those at La Trobe University and at Monash University. I am not sure of the technical relationship with the universities. Teaching is a demanding task. It is a profession which often takes people from school to the teachers college, to university, and then back into the school room. Teachers may well proceed through life never having done anything else. Of course teachers play their part in the community like anyone else, but in some ways I believe that teaching offers more threats of isolation from the general thread of the community and the intellectual stimulus that flows in other professions than are found in most other faculties. I am not sure that I approve as a general rule the isolation of teachers colleges into institutions as such. This is a matter of debate. I know that in some countries the authorities have expanded teachers colleges into independent institutions but I believe that the intellectual capacity of teachers and the stimulus that flows from association with other faculties would be of advantage to the education system. Whether all teachers should be from the university level was resolved in some countries long ago.

I believe that the Commonwealth Government should assert itself more in these matters. Canberra is the place where we ought to be setting the standards. Canberra should have an independent education authority. This is the area where the Government could carry out experiments and adopt a progressive approach to many matters which would set the rest of the Australian educational systems moving. I support the Bill. Anything that the Commonwealth does in this area is gratefully received. As my friend the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) pointed out earlier, not so long ago it was regarded as a minor aberration if I spoke on education. It was regarded as one of the minor aberrations of a person who brought his professional pursuit into this chamber despite the constitutional aberrations that afflict this country.

It is an instructive historical pursuit to look back at some of the speeches made by our former great national leader the right honourable Sir Robert Gordon Menzies, and what he had to say about these things and then turn to the flowing eloquence of my friend the honourable member for Diamond Valley and the Minister for Education and Science. One notes that over 10 or 12 years honourable members opposite have progressed elaborately from being absolute State righters to almost dislocating their shoulders from patting themselves on the back for what they are doing for education. The Commonwealth Government has a long way to go before it satisfies the duty imposed on it by its great resources and financial capacity. I hope that in the future when I stand to speak and ask for co-operation from the Government side of the chamber I will receive it as in duty bound.

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