Below is the letter that was emailed to new Minister for Education, Jason Clare. In this letter, SCEAA members raise their concerns regarding the recent v 9.0 of the Australian Curriculum.
The Hon. Jason Clare, MP. Minister for Education
We are writing to congratulate you on your appointment as Minister for Education in the new Federal Government. This is a significant honour, and we warmly wish you all the best with the portfolio. We hope we can engage in discussions with you on a number of important education issues
One of the central goals for Australian schooling, in the Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Declaration, is the development of active and informed citizens and members of the community. Yet, according to the National Assessment Program - Civics and Citizenship (2019), only 53% of Year 6 students met or exceeded the proficient standard. The statistics are worse for Year 10 students, where only 38% of students attained the proficiency standard. We believe that a renewed focus on Civics and Citizenship education is essential in order to achieve the national goals and the engagement of youth in our robust democracy.
The Social and Citizenship Education Association of Australia (SCEAA) is a national organisation that represents teachers, educators in a range of NGOs and academics focused on improving the quality of learning in this field at all levels of education. We publish a well-respected and well-read academic journal, The Social Educator and have regular webinars and conferences attracting national and international engagement
Social and Civics and Citizenship education is at a critical juncture in Australia. Since 1989 when the Senate Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training published Education for Active Citizenship (1989), which raised concerns about a democratic deficit amongst young people, various state and federal governments have attempted to determine what should be taught about democracy in Australia, and the means by which it should be taught.
Different points of view have existed on a continuum between an uncritical valorisation of the history of Australian democracy, and a more critical, purposeful stance that emphasises active citizenship and positions young people as active participants in our democratic communities.
The Senate Committee, report on Nationhood, National Identity and Democracy, led by Kim Carr, was published in February 2021. One of the key
20 June 2022
recommendations was to review the current civics and citizenship subject of the Australian National Curriculum with a view to redesigning it to make it more engaging for students. This report, despite its thorough research and well founded recommendations, did not receive the attention it deserved, and remains largely neglected in public debate.
We are concerned about the latest version of the Australian Curriculum (v 9.0). Despite being active in national consultations, alongside other groups who shared our views, we are increasingly worried that v 9.0 limits the efficacy of young people and essentially casts them as ‘citizens-in-waiting’, rather than active citizens. If nothing else, young people’s advocacy about climate change, marriage equality and their involvement in the most recent federal election (alongside older members of society, too) indicates that young people are anything but ‘citizens-in-waiting’.
We argue that our curriculum should empower young people to be active and informed members of their community - as the Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Declaration calls for. In its current version, it does not do this. SCEAA Member, Peter Brett, has written more about this (Brett, 2022) as has SCEAA Executive member, Libby Tudball (Tudball, 2022). We urge you to examine the new version of the curriculum closely, and would welcome an opportunity to discuss future directions in the Humanities and Social Sciences with you. Our national executive group e would be willing to travel to either Canberra or Sydney at a time convenient and do hope that we can meet with you, either in person or online.
Dr Genevieve Hall,
Dr Keith Heggart
Vice President, SCEAA
Dr Deborah Green
Associate Professor Libby Tubdall