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Like anchovy on pizza : government funding for private schools


Should governments fund nongovernment schools? It is a bit like asking whether you should put anchovy on pizza. The Commonwealth government has vowed to maintain financial support for diversity in the delivery of Australian education. Those in favour of the policy say it is good for choice; those against say it is high treason against public education. There is little in between. Much like opinions about anchovy on pizza, the policy is either loved or loathed by teachers. Those against government funding for non-government schools argue that citizens should not be forced to contribute taxation for schools to which there is no equality of access. On the surface, at least, this is a credible position and it is understandably well supported. The author argues, however, for the maintenance of the current system of funding. His main argument is that the vast majority of nongovernment schools have a religious basis, generally Christian, and that since around 80 percent percent of Australians declare themselves to be Christians, there is a place for the burgeoning low-fee independent school, particularly those offering a belief-based education. The author also argues that by far the largest proportion of students in Australia attending nongovernment schools go to modest institutions that, more often than not, have reasonable numbers of students on some kind of financial relief. The author concludes that it is time for all educators, including those in government schools, to accept that it makes sense for governments to support diversity in education by funding government and nongovernment schools, not least because the large majority of Australians say they hold a religious belief, but also because government funding for nongovernment schools makes financial sense. [Author abstract, ed]

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