The Australian Greens will tackle the ongoing teaching shortage by using a Commonwealth Scholarships Scheme to attract our best and brightest students to work in the education system, according to Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.
Senator Hanson-Young, Greens spokesperson on Education, says the party's education plan is designed to make practical improvements to the system, such as investing to secure the future supply of good quality teachers to educate our children.
"Teacher shortages are a real and serious concern in Australia, whether it is in particular subject areas or particular geographical areas,'' Senator Hanson-Young said.
"As an example, reports suggest that half of NSW teachers will reach retirement age by 2016. There's no time to waste, we need to start training up our next generations of teachers now.
"That's why the Greens will set up a Commonwealth Scholarship scheme that will provide incentives to top students to become teachers, offering guaranteed work at the end of studies in return for staying in areas of need for at least three years.''
The scheme would:
• Provide up to 3000 scholarships a year, divided between states on a per capita basis
• Make scholarships available for up to five years - at $5000 a year - to allow students to finish degrees
• Provide tax-free scholarships which would not effect eligibility for Youth Allowance
• Guarantee recipients a teaching job in a public school in an area of need
• Require recipients to remain in full-time employment in areas of need, such as public schools, for at least three years.
The Greens will also work to improve the levels of Asian language literacy in Australian schools. In 2008, less than 6 per cent of students in Australian learned an Asian language, and the figure is falling.
"We will restore levels of Asian language literacy in Australian schools, by increasing funding to pre-Howard levels, establishing national leadership groups for the four Asian languages taught in schools and establishing partnerships with international institutions,'' Senator Hanson-Young said.
"As part of the Asia-Pacific, Australia should be promoting the learning of Asian languages in schools, advocating to parents and their children the benefits of learning these languages and working to increasing the language skills and proficiency of students.
"These two initiatives are examples of the Greens making sensible investments to generate better outcomes for Australians,'' Senator Hanson-Young said.