Degree factories undermining literacy and numeracy

It is difficult to escape the conclusion that universities have become corporatised degree factories and this is having a long-tail effect.

A recent media article (behind a paywall, so I won’t post the link) states that nearly 10 per cent of Australia’s aspiring teachers are failing to meet basic literacy and numeracy standards, a significant deterioration in four years. It would seem potential teaching graduates are finding this out at the end of their four year degree, which cannot be awarded until they pass these basic tests mandated by the Australian Government (see example at the end of this piece).

Pair this with the fact that the OECD’s most OECD recent rankings showed the reading literacy of Australia’s 15-year-olds has fallen from fourth in the world in 2003 to 16th. In that time, numeracy figures fell from 11th to 29th.

And then throw in the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) evidence that some 44% of adult Australians (not including recent migrants) are functionally illiterate and innumerate.

My recent blog piece The Kids Are Not Alright highlighted the certainty that, under current social and economic polices, millions of Australians will never have full-time paid work in their lifetime, partly because they do not have the skills or experience (including literacy and numeracy) to fill the jobs of the future.

The Barangaroo Project in Sydney provides a shining light on the the type of thinking we are going to need in order to provide livelihoods and dignity for our current generation of young people and into the future. Let the debate begin.