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New program to improve basic skills in primary schools

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U 3 Minister fo r

M91/ 8 A Education & Youth Affairs



A new Commonwealth Government program is to be set up to

help children having difficulty mastering basic skills in

primary schools.

The Minister for Education and Youth Affairs, Senator Susan Ryan,

announced the new program today as part of the Government's

financial guidelines to the Commonwealth Schools Commission

for 1985 and beyond.

Senator Ryan said the Basic Learning in Primary Schools Program

would complement the work of the Participation and Equity Program

in secondary schools.

The Participation and Equity Program (PEP), was announced in

last year's guidelines to the Schools Commission and Tertiary

Education Commission and began in January 198A. It is designed

to encourage students to complete a full secondary education or

equivalent training.

Senator Ryan said the Government recognised that many of the

unsatisfactory outcomes at the end of secondary education had

their origins in the educational experiences of students in

primary schools.

The Government was particularly concerned that a minority of

students left government and non-government schools without

having achieved a minimum acceptable standard in the basic areas.

The Basic Learning in Primary Schools Program would provide extra

assistance for children to help raise the minimum competencies

achieved. Emphasis would be on the acquisition of language skills

and numeracy in the early primary years.

. . . / 2

Senator Ryan said the Government had asked the Schools

Commission to ensure that the new program was particularly

directed to helping children from those groups in the

community who have most difficulty in acquiring learning

skills .

From 1985 to 1987, $6.7 million would be provided by the

Commonwealth each year for the program. Of the total,

government schools would receive $5.3 million and non-government

schools $ 1 . A million, but the Schools Commission has been asked

to encourage collaborative activity between the two sectors.

The Schools Commission has been asked to submit detailed

recommendations for the implementation of the program.

Senator Ryan said the new program reflected a commitment by

the Government before the 1983 election.

Further information: Ken Henrick (062) 89 7300 (w)

. 31 3626 (h)