Agfest shaping up to be education battleground

Though Agfest is all about the agriculture, state politicians are fighting it out over the future of Gonski 2.0.

Even in a paddock in rural Tasmania, state politicians are debating future funding plans for Tasmania’s education system.

Following the Federal Government’s Tuesday announcement of an updated needs-based funding model for the nation, Tasmanian politicians are struggling to gain a consensus on the proposal.

The plan, dubbed ‘Gonski 2.0’, distributes national funding according to criteria including disabilities, financial disadvantage, indigenous student population and location.

In order to finance the plan, 90 schools will have their funding cut, and another 350 schools will have slower than expected funding growth.

State Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff was adament in his support for the program.

“Tasmanian schools will be better off than they were 12 months ago,” he said. “We will have in the order of an extra $200 million into education in Tasmania as a result of the Gonski 2.0 deal.”

Mr Rockliff said the original Gonski deal was about overfunding elite private schools at the expense of schools in disadvantaged areas, and the new version would be fairer for Tasmanians.

He attacked the Tasmanian Labor Party’s stance, telling them to “stop chasing fake and imaginary money.”

“I cannot believe Labor prefer a funding model that favours elite private schools on the mainland,” he said.

Opposition leader Rebecca White said Mr Rockliff was the only education minister in the country to support Gonski 2.0.

“Every other state education minister has raised concerns about the cut this means to the funding that was promised,” she said. “This will mean Tasmania will see a reduction of $80 million over the next two years for our schools compared to what was previously promised.”

“That’s simply not good enough.”

This article was written for the Agfest News website from a mobile newsroom on-site in Carrick. The article is available here: https://www.agfest.com.au/news/2017/05/05/agfest-education-battleground/

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