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Cuts will ‘condemn Far West students’

Friday, 23rd May, 2014

Troy Clark shows his support for public education in the Town Square yesterday. Troy Clark shows his support for public education in the Town Square yesterday.

By Nick Gibbs

Broken Hill will be severely affected by the cuts to education in the Federal Budget, says the Barrier Teachers Association.

Teachers were in the town square yesterday for Public Education Day and to let people know about the coming changes.

Blame was laid squarely on the shoulders of PM Tony Abbott and his Education Minister Christopher Pyne.

“Give the kids a fair go, they are the future of Australia,” said BTA President Maureen Clark.

“The government is mapping the future for Australia and at the moment we are on a course for failure.”  

Under the proposed changes, $30 billion will be saved over the next decade by slowing the rate of spending on education.

“The most vulnerable people in society are getting hit right and left,” said Mrs Clark, who predicted that the gap between rich and poor would widen.

The retired school teacher said Labor’s Gonski proposal to spent more on education had the potential to revolutionise the system by allocating funding on a needs basis.

But now country schools would be hit particularly hard by this government, she said.

“They don’t seem to have any alternative to offer for education,” she said. 

Literacy and numeracy programs, individual student attention and teacher training were areas specifically under threat, and 

Aboriginal students who stood to benefit from needs-based funding would also suffer, according to Mrs Clark.

She said the PM’s apparent concern for Indigenous affairs before the election appeared to have been nothing more than electioneering.

“It was a lot of weasel words used in the past to win votes.” 

Joining Mrs Clark yesterday was casual teacher Rowena Morgan and Chris Warhurst, formerly of the School of the Air.

Ms Morgan spent six months at Broken Hill High School and said that her job a casual allowed to see how students were faring in a range of subjects.  

“There are students who struggle,  she said.

 “Why should they suffer? Public education is supposed to be the great equalizer.”  

Ms Warhurst said the government’s deregulation of university fees and charging higher interest rates for HECS debt could put tertiary education out of reach for many.

She said regional students already had the extra of living away from home and that making the fees more expensive could put them off university altogether.

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