Wednesday, October 10, 2012

"We'll soon be sending our children to China to be educated"

That's a comment I never thought I'd hear from a staunchly patriotic Aussie bloke.

It was uttered with anger after hearing of the latest exodus of teachers from the TAFE colleges in Victoria, and sadly seems to hold a grain of potential.

Watching (thankfully from afar), the decimation of the once proud TAFE system has been painful in the extreme. A death by a thousand cuts, slow, piece by shameful piece, and horribly, horribly stressful for staff and students alike.

It's been like watching a visionary pioneer family who have been highly regarded and respected in their community. Who have provided jobs and hope to those in need but who have fallen on hard times. One family member now holds sway.

The powerful older brother has distracted his trusting family and is selling off their assets to shore up their crumbling fortune. He'd been entrusted to safeguard the family treasures, invest wisely, but instead has decided the quick way to maintain a veneer of credibility is to systematically and steadily sell off the family heirlooms, right down to the silverware and cutlery. It's easier after all, than facing the fact that he's mismanaged their inheritance. He'll take the money and run as soon as possible.

This brutalizing of communities reeks of frantic desperation. The repeated mantra that this is a sound decision, fools only those who want to be fooled. The TAFE sector is described in the TAFE Directors blog as being in "continuing crisis" (link here)

There is no wisdom in selling education to the highest bidder. That's not in our best interests or in the interests of our children and grandchildren. Our students aren't a commodity, no matter what spin is put on that fact. Our government should safeguard our children's future - protect, nurture and celebrate the teachers and institutions who help them find a meaningful role, to enable them to contribute to a vibrant, equitable and caring society.

This wanton destruction is being conducted without discussion, without consultation, and in complete disregard to the pleas from councils and community groups throughout the state. The response is callous, sneering contempt for those who can see the damage that is being done.

The Australian Skills Quality Authority "detailed that after almost 850 RTO* audits in its first 13 months of operations, some 25% of RTOs were blocked from various activities, warned or deregistered." So, here we have a sector which was travelling relatively well in the form of TAFE colleges, being sold out to private providers - some of whom are exceedingly ill equipped and disinterested in maintaining even a semblance of adequate standards. *(Registered Training Organisation)

Overseeing the operation of private colleges comes at a price over and above poor training and qualifications being granted to students who haven't seen the inside of a classroom.

Unfortunately, it's the taxpayer who is (understandably) being kept in the dark. It's estimated that the costs of the Australian Skills Quality Authority and the bodies who regulate the sector have exceeded $500million - that's on top of the $180million for the 11 industry skills councils.

That's an obscene amount of money to waste. The system worked, and on the whole it worked well. We now have a shambles of disconnected, poor and substandard courses and "graduates" who have qualifications on paper only, being let loose on the public.

Some "graduates" who can afford it, have chosen to retrain at a TAFE, but this comes at considerable cost both financially and in time. Some are working. How confident are you feeling when you're receiving treatment, hiring a tradie or seeing people handling food? Was their training thorough? Had their organization passed muster, or did it slip through the system?

The result of this debacle, of course, will be an increase in disengaged, disgruntled and at times downright angry citizens. We're already seeing this with marginalised groups. The government treats us like gullible fools who are somehow incapable of seeing the stupidity of their actions.

But an action that stinks, still stinks, no matter what offensive cloying perfume is sprayed around.



David Macaulay said...

Can't say I had ever heard of this Sue, but then we don't get much Aussie news over here. Didn't get much in Britain, come to think of it.

sue said...

It's a very localised issue David but is having disastrous consequences for many people. My logic is that if I'm writing letters and emails to politicians, I might as well use the information in blog posts for all to see what's happening.