Television Interview with Karl Stefanovic – Today Show – Wednesday 22 February 2023


SUBJECTS: Director General of ASIO speech; NAPLAN results, Education reforms

KARL STEFANOVIC: Okay, let’s bring in Education Minister Jason Clare in Canberra. He’s going to be talking about NAPLAN in just a second. But just on that issue and that point that Sarah was making, commercial business leaders, even politicians, Jason, were mentioned in all of this. Does more need to be done? Does it need to be open? Does it need to be accountable? Do these people need to be named?

JASON CLARE, MINISTER FOR EDUCATION: I think the point was just made, if we need a wakeup call, we’ve got it. This is a blunt assessment about just how serious this is. Spies threatening Australian national security like never before. But it’s not just this, Karl. We spent the last few months seeing what cyber hackers can do to rip out our data and try and steal our money, through Medibank and Optus. On top of that, it’s the hardware we need to protect our country from foreign threats as well, and the PM will be talking about that today and talking about the meeting with the US President, the Japanese Prime Minister and the Indian Prime Minister here in Australia in the next few months.

STEFANOVIC: Okay. The teaching crisis now, the results of NAPLAN have been revealed. The bush, unfortunately being left behind again.

CLARE: We’ve got a good education system, but it can be a lot better and a lot fairer. The heart of the matter is this: if you’re a child from a poor background or from the bush, you’re less likely to go to preschool, you’re more likely to fall behind at primary school, you’re less likely to finish high school and less likely to go on to university, that’s the awful truth of it. What this also tells us is that if you’re a child from a poor background or from the bush, and you go to a school where there’s lots of children from a poor background, it’s harder to catch up. That weighs heavily on me, mate, because I went to a school like that. I know you did, too.

STEFANOVIC: Yeah, well it weighs heavily, but I don’t know that anything’s been done about it. And we seem to have been talking about this for decades now. Just that difference, it’s 100 point difference between the city and the bush. The Telegraph today has a former high school principal and education researcher Chris Bonnor, who described it as the single biggest problem bedevilling Australian education generally. I mean, what are we going to do about it? And again, it’s been a couple of decades since we’ve been on this, since we’ve been talking about it, since educators knew there was an issue, and still nothing.

CLARE: Too long and lost decades. This is what the next National Schools Reform Agreement has to tackle, has to zero in on. Funding tied to the sorts of things that are going to help children catch up, whether they’re in the bush or whether they’re children from poor backgrounds or Indigenous children.

You’re three times more likely to fall behind at school if you’re from the bush or from a poor family. I’m not interested in blank cheques here, mate. But I do want to make sure that we’ve got money tied to the sort of practical reforms that are going to help children catch up. I’ll give you an example. The sort of things that are being talked about, small group tutoring where you might have a teacher and a couple of students who are falling behind in a class, brought out of the class and provided with that catch up support. If you don’t do that, children are going to fall further behind and they’re less likely to finish school and go on and get great jobs.

STEFANOVIC: I hope the states come to the party on this as well. Always good to talk to you. Thank you.