Australia’s Proposed Curriculum Must Be Rewritten With ‘Fundamental Changes’: Education Minister

By Rebecca Zhu
Rebecca Zhu
Rebecca Zhu
August 19, 2021 Updated: August 19, 2021

Australian Education Minister Alan Tudge has told the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) that it must substantially rewrite its draft national curriculum or it will not be approved.

The proposed curriculum that was released in April attracted heavy criticism across all subjects, including the removal of all references to Australia’s democratic and Judeo-Christian heritage in history.

“Your draft, however, diminishes Australia’s western, liberal, and democratic values,” Tudge wrote in a letter to ACARA, as reported by The Australian. “The overarching impression from the curriculum is that the main feature of western civilisation is slavery, imperialism, and colonisation.”

The Epoch Times has not seen the letter.

Tudge criticised the “ideology over evidence” approach that ACARA took to the curriculum, urging the ACARA’s board to seriously consider feedback from education experts who have expressed deep concern over the lowered education standards of the proposal.

“Some of these groups, such as Australia’s peak mathematics association, believe that the current draft will take Australian kids backwards,” he said. “If the current draft is simply tweaked, it will not be supported—it needs fundamental changes.”

Tudge, who became the education minister in Dec. 2020, has made it his major goal to return Australia to the top group of education nations.

He previously said there was an issue where graduating teachers are insufficiently prepared to teach in classrooms because of the heavy focus on theory and lack of focus on evidence-based teaching methods.

Therefore, the new curriculum should emphasise evidence-based practices, particularly in fundamental subjects like reading and maths.

“However, to my great frustration, evidence-based practices have not been consistently embedded in your (ACARA’s) current draft,” Tudge wrote. “There is still too much emphasis on whole-language learning of reading and insufficient emphasis on phonics.”

“Thirty years ago, determining the best way to teach reading may have been a legitimate debate, but it is not now, ” he said.” The teaching of phonics is vital.”

Meanwhile, the Australian Mathematics Science Institute (AMSI) has been particularly critical for the weakened maths standards in the new curriculum through the delay and removal of key concepts.

They also disagreed with the curriculum’s strong emphasis on problem-solving before key concepts were learnt because mastering fundamentals was needed before problem-solving could be effective.

AMSI Director Tim Marchant previously told The Epoch Times that the members were unified in their strong opposition to the proposed curriculum and were pursuing changes.

Senator Eric Abetz said Tudge’s call to rewrite its curriculum draft was an essential step to ensure “education prevails over ideology.”

Abetz said ACARA needs to prioritise fundamentals and cease the focus on Australia’s past faults rather than many successes.

“The relentless Leftist denigration of Australia’s great history, one of the most successful, prosperous countries in the world, is typical of the rot besetting our education and university sector, which teaches our teachers,” Abetz said in a statement.

Tudge told ACARA it needed to seize the current opportunity to lift the nation’s education standards, while Abetz said he looked forward to a more balanced curriculum.

“One that doesn’t shy away from the ills of the past but also examines how and why Australia became one of the most successful countries in the world,” Abetz said.

Rebecca Zhu
Rebecca Zhu