Australia’s Gillard Pushes for Higher Spending on Education

Australia should increase spending on education by about A$6.5 billion ($6.7 billion) a year as the nation seeks to create one of the top five schooling systems in the world by 2025, Prime Minister Julia Gillard said.

“Leaders of Asian nations tell me when I meet with them of their relentless focus on education,” Gillard said in a speech in Canberra today. “We mightn’t want to replicate the methods of their schooling systems but you have to admire their drive for results.”

Australia is ranked seventh on reading and science and 13th on mathematics, Gillard said. The nation’s first female prime minister plans to introduce the Australian Education Act in parliament this year and wants it passed in 2013, ahead of elections that must be held in November.

The program, to start in 2014 and funded by federal and state governments, will focus on improving the quality of school-teaching, empowering principals to make decisions on their schools, and using a foundation of reading, writing and mathematics.

“Every child’s education should be supported with a benchmark amount of funding: a new schooling resource standard based on what it costs to educate a student at the schools we know already get strong results,” Gillard said. The standard should should apply regardless of whether the school is publicly or privately funded, she said.

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To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg at

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