13 September 2006
OECD report highlights need for more investment in public education
OECD’s Education at a Glance (E@AG ) report is a clear reminder of the need for governments to invest in public education, but it falls short of actually urging them to boost spending levels, PPTA junior vice president Robin Duff said today.
Mr Duff said the Education at a Glance report highlighted the importance of high quality public education in promoting social cohesion and economic prosperity.
“The E@AG shows that countries that invest in education and skills development benefit both economically and socially, but it could have given a clearer message to governments that increased public investment in public education is essential in the knowledge society of the future.”
Mr Duff said that although New Zealand was above the OECD average in education spending as a percentage of GDP, actual expenditure per student was still much lower than many other OECD countries, including Australia*.
“Education spending in New Zealand may have increased but the increases have been eroded by rising school costs and increasing student numbers.”
New Zealand’s higher degree of reliance on local (private) funding sources than other OECD countries was also a concern, he said.
“Schools say they struggle to survive on only their government-funded operations grant and must supplement their public funds.
“But private funding such as foreign fee paying students has been notoriously unreliable, as evidenced by the bottom falling out of the foreign fee paying market.”
“It is essential that education be maintained as a public good accessible to all. That means significantly increasing funding to public education, giving teachers competitive salaries and improving their working conditions and professional development. This can be achieved only by governments taking more responsibility, not less,” he said.
Education at a Glance 2006 is OECD’s annual analyses of a broad range of internationally-comparable indicators in education.
*NZ spent only $5963 per student on education in 2004, compared to the OECD average of $6827, $7500 in Australia and Finland and $10,000 in Norway.