Flat White

What about civics education?

15 February 2021

4:00 AM

15 February 2021

4:00 AM

The current review of the national Curriculum seems an almost covert operation, and neglects the pressing need to elevate Australian Civics and Citizenship.

The latest CIS paper, A 2021 education resolution: keep an eye on the Australian Curriculumassesses the potential opportunities at risk of being neglected in the review.

Australian students and their teachers deserve the best possible curriculum, but the trajectory of the review doesn’t inspire confidence.

A clever country would shine a probing spotlight on this national education project, which claims to ensure the nation’s ongoing economic prosperity and social cohesion.

The paper follows recently released results of the National Assessment Program – Civics and Citizenship, which revealed 62% of Australian students nearing school-leaving age didn’t achieve the proficiency standard, and 87% couldn’t interpret the results of a hypothetical federal election.


For this reason, the review must chart a balanced approach to the nation’s heritage as a Western liberal democracy and must redress a curriculum that is currently completely lacking in intellectual and cultural firepower.

There are replicable examples of curriculums that prioritise a ‘love of country’, particularly high-performing Singapore. Closer to home, this is also a common theme in the education and broader aspirations of Indigenous Australians but can barely be detected in the wider curriculum.

This is the time to recast Civics and Citizenship — ironically, the subject that few seem to care or know much about — as the major integrating feature of the Australian Curriculum.

Centring the curriculum around our cultural and intellectual heritage would mean a far more solid foundation, but there should also be room for schools and teachers to weave in material appropriate to local students and communities.

This would help ensure students can meet the objective of becoming successful lifelong learners who can make sense of their world and think about how things have become the way they are — as the goals outline.

However, there has been no widespread public consultation to determine priorities and there is only a brief window of opportunity to comment on proposals for changes.

Every Australian has a stake in this review, especially as the country works to recover from the consequences of the pandemic and position strongly for the future.

Fiona Mueller is an Adjunct Scholar at the Centre for Independent Studies

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