Australian government to review its national curriculum


CANBERRA, Jan. 10 — The Australian coalition government will implement a review to evaluate the robustness, independence and balance of the Australian Curriculum, Minister for Education Christopher Pyne confirmed on Friday.
According to local media, the Coalition made a curriculum review one of its election promises, saying the school teaching material had become too politicized under Labor.
It argued at the time that the curriculum required students to learn about the day-to-day activities of the trade union movement, while making no explicit references to conservative achievements in politics.
According to Pyne’s plan, the government will appoint two specialists, ex-Liberal Party staffer Kevin Donnelly, and University of Queensland Professor Ken Wiltshire, to review what is taught in Australian schools. They will provide recommendations to the government in mid-2014.
Under this approach, the federal government will work with the states and territories by focusing in 2014 on four key areas that will make a difference, including teacher quality, principal autonomy, engaging parents in education and strengthening the curriculum.
Pyne confirmed that this so-called “student first” review will evaluate the robustness, independence and balance of the Australian Curriculum by looking at both the development process and content.
He said the review will help ensure the curriculum improves student outcomes, as part of a focus on putting students first in the Abbott government’s education policies.
“I’m not going to prejudge the outcome of the national curriculum , suffice to say there has been criticism of the national curriculum over a lengthy period of time,” Pyne told reporters in Adelaide Friday.
“What I want the curriculum to be is a robust and worthwhile document that embraces knowledge and doesn’t try and be all things to all people,” he said. “I also want the curriculum to celebrate Australia, and for students, when they have finished school, to know where we’ve come from as a nation.”
Although Pyne confirmed this review will be balanced and fair, according to local media, Labor, Greens and teachers are all criticized this plan.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said he is concerned about the Coalition’s intentions.
“Please stop trying to put your version of politics into the school books. Children’s education should be above politics,” he said.
The Greens also criticized Pyne’s review has nothing to do with standards but is rather motivated by “pure ideology”.
“The Gonski report and all the international evidence tells us Australia is facing a huge challenge in education and it’s about equity, not ideological curriculum wars,” said Acting Leader for the Australian Greens Richard Di Natale.
In addition, the Australian Education Union (AEU), which represents teachers, said many of Pyne’s concerns are unfounded, and has warned that the review could put classrooms back on the political battlefield.
“We don’t want to see a return to the culture wars,” AEU federal president Angelo Gavrielatos said Friday. “We certainly don’t want to see the politicization of the national curriculum.”
According to him, the national curriculum is already overseen by an independent body, which includes representatives of every state and territory education minister, as well as the private school sector.
“Prior to the implementation of any curriculum development, it is signed off by every single state and territory minister – and that includes Coalition ministers,” Gavrielatos said.[db:内容2]