Education flaws could cost $1.5t: report
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SYDNEY, Nov 19 AAP
November 19 2012, 2:23PM
More than $1 trillion could be lost to the Australian economy in the next 80 years if education improvements are not made now, a new report warns.
The analysis by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), released on Monday, says that Australia has lost its reputation for high education performance levels in the past decade.
The report states that there is currently a good system of primary and secondary education, but "good is not great".
It says leaving things as they are "imposes opportunity costs on Australia".
If the present trend continues, the overall productivity costs to be borne by the nation between now and 2092 would be $1.5 trillion, according to PwC.
School Education Minister Peter Garrett says the nation cannot afford to do nothing.
"Australia's total economic output is currently about $1.5 trillion per year," he said.
"This PwC analysis tells us that if we improve our schools to be competitive with those of world leader Finland, that over the life of a child born this year, our plan would generate an extra $3.6 trillion for the national economy."
The PwC report says Australia's ranking in international education tables has slipped because other countries have lifted their game while Australian students' proficiency levels have fallen.
"This is a strong reminder that the National Plan for School Improvement really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ensure Australia can continue to win the economic race by winning the education race," said Mr Garrett.
Angelo Gavrielatos, federal president of the Australian Education Union, said the report reiterated the message from the Gonski report that action had to be taken.
"Inaction is clearly not an option. If we're serious about our future productivity and prosperity we need funding reform," he said.
He called on politicians to get behind the reform "and allow every child to reach his or her full potential".