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Education in the A.C.T.

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The Minister for Education and Science, Mr Nigel Bowen, today amplified his announcement last Friday that the Government had decided not to hold for the present an inquiry into education in the Australian Capital Territory.

The Minister emphasised that the statement meant what is said — "for the present". He would keep the matter under review.

Mr Bowen said that he and his predecessors had agreed that at some time the present partnership between New South Wales and the Commonwealth would have to be replaced. What was at issue was the timing and form of administration. It would not be reasonable for the Government to set up an

inquiry without first considering those conditions which, if left unchanged, would severely limit the scope of any recommendations.

It was necessary therefore for the Government to take into account the matter of teacher supply. A teaching service confined to the A.C.T. schools now or for some time to come would be too small to provide an attractive career structure. The Government's decision, announced also on Friday, to establish

a Commonwealth Teaching Service was related to this point. The Commonwealth Teaching Service will provide security and mobility for teachers in Commonwealth operated school systems wherever they are. While its first application would be

in the two school systems in the Northern Territory (the community schools and the special Aboriginal schools) its existence would facilitate also the eventual operation of a separate school system in the A.C.T. if one were established.

This would be the case whether such a system were conducted by a Government Department or by a statutory education authority.

Nor can the Government ignore the matter of teacher training, the Minister said. The A.C.T. could not expect to rely on the teacher training resources of the States. Teacher education for both primary and secondary teachers will begin at the Canberra College of Advanced Education in'1971.

The central importance of teacher supply made it reasonable to

await the first results of the measures just mentioned before establishing an enquiry.

It was true, the Minister said, that in considering proposals for education in the A.C.T. the Government had to keep in mind its Commonwealth wide responsibilities. However, he knew of no way in which consideration of these Australia wide interests could reasonably be said to have acted to the detriment of the A.C.T. unless it were assumed that the A.C.T, were entitled

to more than its present share of the resources being devoted to education.

The Minister believed that within the present arrangements there was scope for greater community participation in the formulation of education policy in the A.C.T. On education matters there was already a great deal of consultation between him and his Department on the one hand and interested teacher and community groups on the other. Until now the A.C.T. Combined Council of Parents and Citizens' Associations has not taken up his predecessor's invitation to be

associated with an advisory body through which the Canberra Community could formulate its ideas on education. He would welcome the establishment of such a body on which would be represented organisations and institutions with strong interest in education in the A.C.T.

12 October 1970