The ACT Chief Minister has reinforced the government’s commitment to education services as a new report has revealed the Territory has the highest participation in education across early childhood, tertiary, vocational and graduate training.
The Report on Government Services, released on Tuesday tracks how Australian states and territories are performing against national criteria in childcare, education, and training.
The government says there are many positives to take out of the report.
“These results show the ACT Government is successfully supporting Canberra students to reach their full potential,” Chief Minister Andrew Barr said.
The report has come out as ACT children head back to school this week, with Minister for Education and Early Childhood Development Yvette Berry delivering 4200 free Chromebooks for secondary students to access more programs and digital resources.
“The ACT Government believes in providing equitable access to the tools that students need to give them equal opportunity to learn. Irrespective of family circumstances, the government is helping every student to have an equal opportunity to learn,” Ms Berry said.
“The ACT Government is committed, through the Future of Education strategy, to developing capable adults who have learnt to learn, live productively in society, think, create and work in an increasingly digital future.
“The use of Chromebook devices also aligns with the objectives of the Australian Curriculum, which requires students to understand how to operate effectively in a digital world. To date, more than 20,000 Canberra students have been provided with a Chromebook device through the program.”
In terms of early childhood, the Territory is significantly ahead of other states and territories, with the proportion of children under 12 attending Australian Government approved child care services.
However, children under 12 with disabilities have a low proportion of representation in childcare services.
The ACT also has the most expensive childcare services in Australia.
When it comes to higher education, Mr Barr, who is also Minister for Tertiary Education, called the ACT the knowledge capital of the nation.
“For the sixth year in a row, the ACT had the highest number of government-funded vocational education and training students participating in courses at certificate III diploma level or above,” Mr Barr said.
“We are investing in a new state-of-the-art CIT campus to be built in Woden. CIT Woden will provide a modern, purpose-built campus that’s expected to bring an extra 6500 students to the Woden town centre each year to support local business and industry.
“The ACT Government remains committed to investing in high quality vocational education and training programs.”
However, his government has come under fire in recent weeks for cutting subsidies for Vocational Education and Training (VET) programs in areas such as early childhood education, digital media and community services.
The Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia said the cuts, up to 50 per cent in some areas, will lead to a skills shortage and affect the long-term viability of the VET sector.
The government defended its decision to reduce subsidies, claiming demand has grown significantly under the User Choice and Skilled Capital programs and that current students would not be affected.
According to the report, the ACT has the lowest completion of VET courses by 20-64 year olds that led to an improved education status, a figure that has been getting lower since 2015.
There has also been a steady decrease in students reporting that VET courses “helped achieve their main reason for training”, although employer satisfaction with all forms of VET engagement went up.