Secular Education

Private School

Private School (Photo credit: mikecogh)

One of the myths of Australia is that we have a secular political system. Nowhere is this myth more obviously false than in our funding of education.

As well as the secular public education system we have a large number of “private” schools with a religious nature that receive generous public support. The Catholic school system, run by the Catholic Education Office, is so generously funded that it charges little in the way of fees and may as well be a public school system. Other so-called “private” schools may charge fees but still continue to receive a great deal of public support. At the same time the fees charged are tax deductible so still further money is taken from the public purse. The vast majority of these schools are Christian of some denomination or other with a small number of Jewish and Muslim schools adding to the high percentage of religious schools.

Australia is one of the few countries in the world where private schools receive public money and spends the greatest percentage of its education funds on these schools and it isn’t going to improve any time soon. One of the rules given to the Gonski committee when they were looking at school funding was that no school could be worse off under the scheme, and make no mistake this was meant to insulate the major private schools from inevitable funding cuts.

Given that they compromise such a large drain on the public purse you might think that these schools would be prepared to obey the same laws as the rest of our society, including the public schools.

There you would be wrong. Private, religious schools are exempt from a number of laws but most importantly discrimination legislation.

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