18 March 2001

Bishop: bad treatment of outworkers

World unsafe for women

Human cloning condemned

New Bishop of Sandhurst

World Day of Prayer

Catholic Education head defends public schools

Catholic Education head defends public schools

The ongoing terror of being a woman

More silence than ever about female torture

Editorial: St Patrick – the first anti-slavery protester

Letters: Who are sons of the Church?

My captors, my friends: Cardinal Francois Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan

Reflection: Where will charity move now?

Australia’s battlers making ends meet

Obituary: Death of pioneering Grail leader

Work-life – getting the balance right

Under the oak tree: The gentle one

New seminarians for a new millennium

18 Mar 01

Catholic Education head defends public schools

It all began in 435 AD with St Patrick whose feast day, March 17, is now celebrated around the globe. “You don’t even have to be Irish to catch the spirit,” says champion Irish dancer, Amanda Cini (pictured), 15, a student at Rosebank College, Five Dock. For the past week Amanda has been dancing at Irish celebrations in and around Sydney. “My father is Maltese and my mum is English but growing up in Hurlstone Park I was exposed to a lot of the Irish culture.” Amanda has been dancing since she was four, but her passion doesn’t come cheap – her fabulous costume and ringleted hair cost around $2,000.

Catholic Education Office head Br Kelvin Canavan has weighed into the education funding debate with a strong defence of the public education sector.

Br Kelvin said a strong public education system was essential for the nation’s future and deserved strong community support.

Br Kelvin’s comments were in support of Public Education Day, held last Thursday to help public schools and colleges showcase public education to the wider community.

“It would be hard to overestimate the importance of these institutions as a major force in shaping the society we all share,” said Br Kelvin.

“Competent and motivated teachers lie at the heart of every successful school, whether it’s government, Catholic or independent. If students emerge from 13 years of schooling with the skills, values and attitudes to make them good citizens contributing in a positive way to society, the reasons will have a lot to do with the many committed teachers who have guided them over the years.”

The current debate over funding levels for government and non-government schools misses the main point, which is that funding levels for education as a whole have to be increased, Br Kelvin said.

He added that there were signs a teacher shortage was looming, which should be addressed through an increase in funding.

“Governments need to take urgent action to avoid such a calamity for the students in our schools, and ultimately for our society as a whole. Part of the answer is adequate public funding for all schools.”

But while he supported public education, Br Kelvin stressed that parents should have a choice in their children’s education. “Choice is an option we don’t want to change, even if Catholic families have to make a financial sacrifice in order to exercise their particular choice. The level of government funding for a student in a Catholic systemic school is around $2,000 less than that provided for a student in a NSW state school. Fees paid by families help make up some of the difference,” said Br Kelvin.

“I’m all for diversity in the provision of education, in which those responsible for schools and school systems work together for the benefit of all students. The nation will be the beneficiary when all educational sectors – state, Catholic and independent – are healthy.”

Br Kelvin said he was disappointed the new funding arrangement for non-government schools had confused and divided the community.