Like it or not, we’re all responsible for poor education
WE want our politicians to act on education, but what are you doing?
Each year 86,000 young Australians drop out of school. While there are, of course, a myriad of factors which might lead a young person opting out of school, the statistics show that not completing Year 12 or the equivalent makes it increasingly likely that they'll do it tough in the future.
Research shows that completing Year 12 or the equivalent, increases a young person's likelihood of continuing with further study, as well as entering the workforce. It also leads to higher annual earnings for individuals, greater community involvement and economic benefits for the country as a whole.
On the flip side, young people missing out on education can lead to increased crime and poorer health outcomes, lower levels of productivity, lower growth in income tax collections, and increased unemployment.
The evidence that shows keeping kids in school is good for all of us is clear. So too is our desire to see education prioritised in Australia.
A recent Essential Report found that when asked about which issues were important in shaping how people would vote in the upcoming Federal Election, education was considered an important factor for many voters.
On a 0-10 importance scale, 30 per cent of people said education was an important issue, giving it the highest score of 10 out of 10.
We all understand the value of education, and we expect our politicians to take action to improve our education systems.
But what are we doing ourselves to contribute? How many of us can say that this week we've done our part to help a young person achieve at school?
The reality is that we all have a role to play in keeping our young people engaged in education and in encouraging them to dream big.
If you have a young person in your life - be they a niece or nephew, a neighbour, a grandchild, a work colleague, or even a teammate at the local footy club - you have a role to play.
Think back to when you were at school. Most of us have stories about people in our lives - not just our teachers or parents - who encouraged us to dream big. A netball coach who took an interest in how we were going at school; a mate who suggested we think about doing that uni degree we'd been dreaming of; a grandparent who told us that our dreams, with a bit of work, could actually become a reality.
Our political leaders have a role to play in improving education, and of course we know that parents and teachers play an important role too, but we, as a society, can't all continue to shirk the responsibility each of us has.
We all know the famous saying: 'it takes a village to raise a child'. It's true. Students do better when they are happy, have a sense of belonging and a range of positive influences they engage with in their lives outside of school.
In fact, a recent study of high-achieving Year 6 students found that the students identified a "sense of belonging" as a key factor in their education.
Their relationships with teachers and peers and participation in extra-curricular activities were ranked as three of the most important factors in their schooling.
It could be as simple as asking how a school project is going, supporting their dreams for the future, or even getting involved in an official mentoring program.
We should all continue to lobby our political leaders to play their role in improving the quality of Australia's education system, but let's not continue to pretend the education of our young people is entirely someone else's problem to solve.
We can all make a difference. It really does take a village - education is everyone's business.
David Crosbie is CEO of Community Council for Australia