Join us on the morning of Monday 16 October, for an insightful breakfast conversation featuring leading US economist, Eric Hanushek and CIS program director Glenn Fahey. The pair will be addressing concerns regarding the nation’s future prosperity, linked to the decline in Australian academic accomplishments. The discussion will emphasise the critical need to tackle educational underperformance and strategically invest in educators and education systems.
Education economists have settled the age-old question of what explains the ‘wealth of nations’: in the long run, it’s smarter countries who become richer countries (not the other way around). Research shows that a country’s ‘knowledge capital’ is key to its future prosperity, economic growth, and living standards. More than any other factor, the effectiveness of a nation’s teachers is key to raising its knowledge capital, but school systems don’t always support effective teaching.
Despite the promise of Australian policymakers to build Australia’s status as a ‘clever country’, international testing points to a two-decade decline in Australian student achievement – the steepest and most consistent decline in the world, other than in Finland. And national reports confirm the disappointing track record in outcomes over recent decades, despite some of the world’s highest levels, and fastest growing, resources put into schooling. The result is that Australian students are not only performing less well against the rest of the world, but also less well than Australian students of the early 2000s. Unsurprisingly, Australia’s productivity growth is now at the lowest level in 60 years.
Against the backdrop of declining student outcomes, along with historically slow productivity growth, is Australia on the path to be a poorer future? What are the costs of educational underperformance? How can smarter investments be made in teachers and schooling?
Eric Hanushek is the Paul and Jean Hanna Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University. He is widely recognised as the world’s leading authority in the economic analysis of education issues, with his research impacting education policy around the world. In his book, The Knowledge Capital of Nations: Education and the Economics of Growth, he establishes that countries’ long-term rates of economic growth are closely related to their education systems’ effectiveness.
Glenn Fahey is program director in Education Policy at the Centre for Independent Studies.