Christian Curriculum

Sky News Live First Edition with Peter Stefanovic


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PIERRE STEFANOVIC:

Federal Education Minister Alan Tudge will push for bigger changes to the proposed national curriculum in a speech today to the Center for Independent Studies, and he is joining me live from Canberra. Mr. Minister, good to see you. Thank you for your time this morning. I want to ask about the curriculum and what the new curriculum will do to reverse Australia’s plummeting results in basic subjects, and why has it taken so long to act?

ALAN TUDGE:

Well, that’s a good question. So the national curriculum is currently under review by the Australian Independent Curriculum Authority and what I want to see are high standards in this new revised curriculum. I want to see built-in evidence-based practices, such as phonetics. I want to see a positive and upbeat view of Australian history where individual students learn to understand the origins of our liberal democracy so that they can defend, protect, understand and celebrate it. Because we live in one of the richest, egalitarian, tolerant and free societies that has ever existed in human history. And students need to understand this in order to protect, nurture, and defend it.

PIERRE STEFANOVIC:

Well, on the story, you mentioned in your speech that the next generation of Australians will not be willing to defend their country in a military crisis. Now that seems a bit far-fetched to me. Do you really think so little of our children and parents?

ALAN TUDGE:

Well, I haven’t really used that language. I said that they will not necessarily defend our democracy as previous generations did.

PIERRE STEFANOVIC:

[Interrupts] Why do you think that though? It sounds very negative.

ALAN TUDGE:

Well, part of the evidence is already there when you look at the Lowy Institute poll that says 40 percent of young people don’t think democracy is the best form of governance we have. And yet, you know, I challenge anyone to consider what other form of government system you would like to have. I mean, there is a giant system in China that you can take a really close look at. There are other authoritarian regimes around the world. I mean, like I just said, we live in the most liberal, egalitarian, tolerant and wealthy society that has ever existed in mankind and it is not by accident. It is actually because we inherited incredible institutions from our ancestors. We have protected them, we have nurtured them, we have improved them, and the students need to understand where they came from so that we can protect them, improve them and nurture them as well.

PIERRE STEFANOVIC:

How would you like schools to deal with colonization and what some First Nations people see as the day of the invasion? How would you like this to be handled?

ALAN TUDGE:

I think we should have a real understanding of what happened in 1788, both in terms of the arrival of the First Fleet and what it meant for Australia as the start of the Modern Australia, but also, absolutely, to analyze that day and the following decades from the point of view of indigenous peoples. Many of whom have suffered very badly.

PIERRE STEFANOVIC:

But do you get the full picture?

ALAN TUDGE:

So you want the full picture. I think it is quite right that there should be these double perspectives on this. I think the aboriginal side of things has been covered very adequately. In some ways it can be a bit repetitive in the draft program that has been proposed. What has not been adequately covered, however, at least in the draft that has been published, is our Western heritage and how it came about and the celebration of the great achievements of modern Australia. And there are a lot of great things to celebrate and we should be proud of our great country. We are not perfect, but we are as perfect as any other nation on the planet and we have to understand this and we have to celebrate this and we should be absolutely proud of it.

PIERRE STEFANOVIC:

And you want all negative talk about racist statues to be erased?

ALAN TUDGE:

Well, that was one of the ridiculous things that was in the draft program. You know kids didn’t learn multiplication tables in second grade, but they did learn to analyze statues and determine if they were racist or not. In 2nd year, 7 years old. I mean, it’s totally and utterly ridiculous. So luckily that is gone in the new project, which I haven’t seen the full version of yet, but was told verbally about it. How this got into the project in the first place, I don’t know Pete.

PIERRE STEFANOVIC:

Yes.

ALAN TUDGE:

I do not know.

PIERRE STEFANOVIC:

So when is this all approved, Minister?

ALAN TUDGE:

Well, it’s going to be buffered when it’s a good version.

PIERRE STEFANOVIC:

Law.

ALAN TUDGE:

So we will have another version presented.

PIERRE STEFANOVIC:

[Interrupts] So where are we now? I mean, I read part of your speech this morning and you mentioned that it went from an F to a C which is still just a passage, so you still have a way to go. Browse.

ALAN TUDGE:

Well, I wouldn’t have approved the draft that is released today. So I gave it an F. I think the new version is a C, but I want to see an A + and the students deserve it. I haven’t seen the new full version yet, but have been informed verbally and understand that there have been significant improvements. For example, the multiplication tables have been reset to what they are today. Christian heritage has been put in, we got rid of those ridiculous examples like kids trying to analyze statues in grade 2 like they’re racist. The phonetics have been reinforced again. So some of those essentials are back in the revised draft and that’s why I think it’s a really positive development. But I want to see the last details. I want the standards to improve, and I certainly want children to absolutely learn our rich democratic history so that they can appreciate and defend it.

PIERRE STEFANOVIC:

Just one more here, Minister. Considering Qantas’ announcement this morning, regarding the return of international students to Australia, when has it reached a level that we saw before the pandemic, and the door is essentially open as it was for international students, when can this happen?

ALAN TUDGE:

I can’t give you a clear answer on this yet. We will see international students coming back this year in smaller numbers and I expect there will be tens of thousands next year. But we are still working on specific dates. I mean, it’s good news that New South Wales and Victoria have now said people can enter without quarantine. But let’s take a look at those details. We have around 160,000 students who already have visas registered for Australian courses waiting abroad to enter. It is therefore a significant number. Obviously, we want to get these students back, but we just have to work on them carefully.

PIERRE STEFANOVIC:

OK. Minister Alan Tudge, thank you for your time. Thanks for coming. Goodbye.

ALAN TUDGE:

Thanks a lot Pete.

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