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Literacy basic to social justice.

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M239/2001 17 August 2001


Student outcomes, particularly in literacy and numeracy, are set to further improve with Commonwealth Government funding of $1.4 billion over four years, the Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government, Senator Ian Macdonald, said today.

Speaking at the National Education and Employment Forum in Brisbane, Senator Ian Macdonald said that literacy was the single most important social justice issue in education and went to the heart of educational disadvantage.

"The Literacy and Numeracy Plan has already shown outstanding results. According to recently released nationally comparable figures, the percentage of children in Year Three and Year Five reaching the nationally agreed reading standard went up by around 14 percentage points between 1996 and 1999," said Senator Macdonald.

Groups targeted for assistance with literacy and numeracy include rural and Indigenous students and those with a disability or learning difficulties.

The budget provides an additional $1 billion (or $1.65 billion including ABSTUDY) over four years to improve educational opportunities for Indigenous Australians.

"Funding for Indigenous education will remain at record levels for the next four years, emphasising the Government's firm commitment to achieving better outcomes for Indigenous people.

"There has been a dramatically improved reading performance for a number of Indigenous students, increased retention rates, and higher Indigenous participation in vocational education and training," said Senator Macdonald.

The Commonwealth Government and other stakeholders have put into action a number of strategies to help young people make the right choices about their futures, including vocational education in schools and New Apprenticeships.

"Our success is evident in the remarkable growth in the number of students participating in vocational education programmes at school. Numbers have gone up almost six-fold since 1995, to over 150,000 students last year.

"New Apprenticeships are a success because they provide a nationally recognised qualification as well as work experience. New Apprenticeships are now available in over 500 occupations in an increasing range of industries - from systems analysis to boilermaking," said Senator Macdonald.

Senator Macdonald's comments were made while representing the Minister for Education, Training and Youth Affairs, Dr David Kemp, at the National Education and Employment Forum.

Media Contact: David Moore 0417 774 724