This report comes at a time when the Australian economy is reeling under the impact of the COVID-19 crisis. More than at any other time, young Australians need to be prepared to face an uncertain economic and social future. The uncertainty they face increases the importance for education and training in Australia to foster the development of a broad range of knowledge and skills. To meet the challenges of the future, Australians must grow up resilient, adaptable and well-informed.
Prior to the COVID crisis, Australian governments had already re-affirmed the importance of promoting a broad base of learning, and in doing so aimed high. The 2019 Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Education Declaration commits Australian governments to providing all young Australians with the opportunity to reach their full potential where they become successful lifelong learners, confident and creative individuals, and active and informed members of the community (Education Council, 2019). According to the goals set out in the Declaration, every learner in Australia, irrespective of where they live or who they are, will develop the knowledge, skills and attributes that will lead them to become personally successful, economically productive and actively engaged citizens.
This study draws together information from a variety of sources on the opportunities being provided to young Australians for mastering the skills needed to be well prepared for the future. Its goal is to show where the strengths and weaknesses of the education system lay prior to the COVID-19 crisis, to point to areas where it will most need to be strengthened. It is a tool for educators, policymakers and communities, to monitor Australia’s learning progress.