The recent news about education in Tasmania has not been all good, with concerns about both young peoples’ and adults’ literacy and numeracy, and the lower proportion of our young people completing year 12 compared to the rest of Australia.
But according to Professors Eleanor Ramsay and Michael Rowan, a closer look at the data shows that Tasmania is not so different to the other states, at least until year ten, and after that the gap can be closed if we challenge our young people to dream big and stay at school to get the knowledge and skills they need to realise their dreams.
Ramsay and Rowan have begun a community project to encourage leaders in all fields to become Education Ambassadors, leading the community conversation about the value of education for young people and for their communities. Recently, they have been speaking with mayors in the North West, beginning in Devonport, where I have enthusiastically accepted their invitation to become an Education Ambassador.
I think that Tasmania has come to a crucial crossroad. Our choices at this crossroad are either to keep explaining away why we are not performing economically, socially and educationally as well as we want to, or to change the culture of our thinking by recognising the value education as the cornerstone of our future. We are currently lagging behind the rest of the country educationally and economically, we can change that. This is why when Professors Ramsay and Rowan offered me the opportunity to become an Education Ambassador, I grabbed it with both hands.
Education and training are the key drivers for economic growth, for achieving a high standard of living, better health, and for stronger communities. Additionally, with the jobs of the future yet to be determined, completing year 12 will be the absolute minimum requirement for employment opportunities and long term job security, along with the willingness to up-skill, re-train or learn.
All of us who care about our community’s future share the responsibility to change our culture so that the future opportunities become a reality in the lives of all of our young people, and also those who are unemployed and have current skills that we can build upon. Nelson Mandela famously said, ‘education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world’, and with our communities and State at the crossroads, we need to use education as our weapon to prepare ourselves and our children for the future.
“In today’s knowledge-based economy, what your earn depends on what you learn.” – William. J. Clinton