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History takes centre stage.

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Media Release


A study which found that many teachers felt that school history was under siege has prompted a Federal Government project announced in Melbourne today by the Minister for Education, Training and Youth Affairs, Dr David Kemp.

The $2.3m National History Project will encourage students to study history in both primary and secondary school. The project implements the recommendations of The Future of the Past, a national inquiry into school history commissioned by the Minister.

"I commissioned the inquiry because I was concerned that, as we approach the Centenary of Federation, the study of history was declining in our schools," the Minister said.

"Year 12 enrolments in history have been falling in most states. Research findings in 1997 indicated that only 36 percent of those interviewed could identify Edmund Barton as an Australian politician and fewer than half of those could identify him as our first Prime Minister. Fewer than 45 per cent could respond when asked what Federation meant."

The inquiry was conducted by a Monash University team headed by Associate Professor Tony Taylor. They looked at the teaching and learning of history in Australian schools, documented examples of good practice and recommended a new approach to teaching history supported by a range of Commonwealth funded initiatives.

"The Future of the Past highlights the need to strengthen history in our schools" said Dr Kemp. The inquiry found that very few primary teachers are trained in teaching history and that many teachers felt that school history had been under siege for some time, particularly in secondary school.

The National History Project will help to lift this siege through support for:

high quality curriculum resources for both primary and secondary schools, ●

targeted teacher professional development, and ●

stronger links between academic historians, teacher educators ●

and classroom teachers.

A description of the components of the National History Project is attached

"The project is timely because our young people are now hungry for historical understanding as they explore their national identity for a new century. Think of the thousands of young Australian backpackers who go out of their way to make sure they attend the dawn service at Gallipoli each Anzac Day."

The National History Project complements the Government’s existing strong commitment to civics and citizenship education through the Discovering Democracy programme, which was extended for another 4 years with $13.4m funding in the 2000-2001 budget. Discovering Democracy helps students learn more about the history of Australian democracy; how government works; and how to make a contribution to the political process and civic life.

The Future of the Past is available at


Media Enquiries: Catherine Job 02 6277 7460 or 0412 918 110


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