Houston, we have a problem

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By Font Strategic Partner Tom O’Meara

Interesting how a few lines in a 76-page report stick like a barnacle and simply won’t exit the brain cavities.

It happened this week when reading through the Tasmanian Report which provided a warts and all commentary by well-recognised economist, Saul Eslake. Saul was engaged by the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry to take a forensic approach to the performance of Tasmania in several sectors of our economy including employment, education, the public sector and population and society.

While Saul spends his life developing strategies, crunching numbers and comparing figures, the Tasmanian Report takes statistics into another dimension by using the annual ABS figures released in mid-November to compare Tasmania’s performance against all other states and territories.

Scanning the education sector, it confirmed that the number of Tasmanians with a bachelor degree or higher is 7.6 percent below the national average. The proportion whose highest education achievement is Year 10 of school or below, is 11.5 percent above the national average (which means we failed badly) and retention rates to Year 12 are 13 percent below the national average and getting worse, not better.

Houston, we have a problem.

But despite the poor report card, Tasmania spends more per student on primary and secondary education than most other states and territories.

As Saul commented, “However, what it [Government] spends, it spends less effectively and efficiently, most likely because of the structure of the school system.”

So in summary that means we spend more per head than the rest of the country to achieve the poorest results for the three most important categories of our education system. We do pretty well in NAPLAN tests up to Year 9, but then we disappear into an almighty sink hole.

It is not a simple blame game for a government past or present, or a minister past, or present. Nor is there an overnight quick fix to solve the problem. However it is a good example of throwing good money after bad, while bending to those of self-interest.

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