“It’s 2030, and Australia has made it to the top of the global rankings in education. The country now has the highest literacy & numeracy scores, the highest share of expert and motivated teachers, the highest university pass rate & lowest unemployment rate.
What is the first step that Australia’s government would need to take today to achieve this phenomenal jump in the country’s global education rankings?”
The EdTechX Sydney Ecosystem Event, hosted with EduGrowth last November, asked the audience this question as part of the EdTechX Asia tour. Five key areas of focus appeared: looking at how to better support teachers, increasing opportunities at university; higher quality EdTech; investment and research as well as driving more ambition in the sector.
Teaching and Universities
A phrase used the most was to “raise the quality” of teachers, whether this is through raising salaries to “encourage top-quality recruits” to teaching as well as to “offer non-academics a position to input into the system at a speed which matters”, it seemed clear that teaching was the priority. While some suggested recruiting new and more teachers from different sectors, others mentioned that providing more training opportunities, including micro-training and online courses to support teacher development will help keep education on track with the new skills required for the future workplace. More funding towards this can improve teaching quality and therefore learning. Others looked at striving toward student engagement and stronger communities to create a sense of belongingness. Embracing new ways of teaching, using new tools to help student engagement, more personalised learning and potentially digitalising learning curriculums were also suggested brought into the conversation. By integrating more practical learning skills, including new technology, into the standard curriculum a more active learning community can be achieved.
Looking at higher education, again more funding was mentioned, suggesting that teaching should not be relied on as a revenue-generating activity. With regards to filling the skills gap, it was believed that this falls onto the universities to teach the right skills to be successful in a changing world of education.
Investment and EdTech
Creating a level playing field for K12, by investing in education based on the student needs, would accelerate Australia’s jump to the top of education rankings. This starts with providing more exceptional EdTech accelerators, funding, mentoring and practical support for educational innovators. Then, with the help of institutions, ensuring new approaches to education that are scalable and can engage markets could generate improved learning and training outcomes.
The underlying theme throughout was to create more ambition within the sector. In addition, education should not focus on being a profit model, rather help create more diversity in skills. Furthermore, more effort was needed to draw international students to Australia, which could also help bring more diverse skills in the workplace thereafter.
“[we should]…be ambitious, create a culture of risking taking to help drive innovation”
The root of the debate focused on K12 to University, with little mention on workforce development, enhancing continuous learning opportunities or up-skilling/re-skilling. It seems that in Australia there is a belief that to improve education rankings, you have to begin with K12, once optimised teaching and learning opportunities were created, this could ripple across to higher education and workforce development, and help Australia reach the top of education rankings.