Governments must invest in education to address racism

“Throughout history, the role of education in building lasting peace has been undervalued.” (Jane Mann, World Economic Forum, 28 February 2024). If a forum devoted to improving world economics can recognise that education is a superpower, then it’s time our federal government does so too!

The promotion of harmony that has characterised multicultural policy in Australia for many years has helped to portray diversity and inclusivity as a positive outcome to our history of immigration. Unfortunately, it has also prohibited sensible discourse around identifying barriers that exist for those who identify as Indigenous or culturally and linguistically diverse. Truth telling of history and addressing structural racism should be encouraged if we are to improve life outcomes for all, but this is often seen as being too political, or as opposing harmony.

Instead of trying to hide the issues associated with racism and the trauma arising from conflict, we should promote the voices of those with lived experiences and allow them to drive the change we need. Only then can we start to build a society that is truly fair and equal.

Federation’s November 2023 Council decision on Peace and Security Education stated: “An inclusive, equitable and comprehensive public education system is an investment in peace.” The right to be well educated and to live in environments free from fear and conflict are fundamental to achieving sustainable peace, which in turn enables communities to thrive, not just survive.

It is also through education that we hope to eliminate racism, remove the structural barriers that deny equal rights and implement the necessary supports that enable all to achieve to their potential.

Governments must be held to account when their policies deny all children the opportunity to flourish. Peaceful and prosperous societies are built upon the foundations of quality education. It must be recognised as an investment for a better future.

When the world’s leaders signed the Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1924, political differences were put aside to support children in their recovery from the horrors of the First World War. As stated within the Declaration, humanity “owes to the Child the best that it has to give”. Holding firm to this promise must form the basis for all we do, and achieving full funding For Every Child is paramount to fulfilling this obligation. Join the campaign for full funding For Every Child.