I was talking to a family member last week, who lives in a small town in north-western Queensland, about 12 hours drive from the capital, Brisbane. She was telling me about the inability of their small P-10 school to attract and retain a Maths teacher.
This surprised me – mainly because, in Australia, we have an excellent Distance Education system, whereby children in rural areas can have access to teachers by attending classes online and completing their classwork – either digitally or by posting their completed lesson work though the mail.
My family member’s news bothered me because it highlighted the fact that, despite a good public education service, access to education in Australia is not equitable.
My family member went on to say that she had tried to get extra help for her girls in the form of private tutoring – at a cost of $85 (!) per hour. She had also considered private distance education lessons from a NZ (!) school at a cost of around $700 per term.
What is going on with the education system in Australia, that public schools cannot even utilise an existing Distance Education system to deliver classes during a teacher shortage!
The main problem seems to be in the number of actual teachers available. A lot of Australia’s teachers have just actually quit in the last year – tired of rising amounts of paperwork, tired of mounting discipline problems. As an ex-teacher I can sympathise – teaching is HARD – and there’s no easy fix.
Unfortunately, more of the burden is falling on parents and carers’ shoulders. They are trying to plug the gaps left behind by education systems struggling to keep up.
An education shouldn’t cost $85 an hour or $750 a term. If you’re a parent who is looking for an alternative, Voyager School offers that. The alternatives we offer are – quality lessons written by a teacher, interactive video lessons (not just passive, but active; kids must answer questions and do activities during the course of the video lesson), self-marking quizzes, a certificate of completion.
Best of all – it’s affordable – our plans start at just AUD$29 a month. Less than half the cost of one hour of tutoring and a fraction of the fees for a private, online school.
Australia is supposed to be the ‘Lucky Country’ – there shouldn’t be gaps in our education system. But there is, and so, parents are left to ‘fill the gaps’ on their own – until now.