Author: Dean Ashenden

Expansion is no Longer the Answer to Improving the Education System

For 50 years, Australia’s policymakers have been persuaded that growth at every level of the education system would be a good thing in itself — and would drive economic growth and social progress. That faith is now under unprecedented pressure. While massive expansion has brought the benefits of education to millions, it has also created new problems, and left old ones unresolved. Human capital theory Belief in the power of education to lift lives and societies is hardly new. But “human capital theory” gave it a new form. Developed by a small group of US economists in the late 1950s, human capital theory arrived in Australia via the OECD in 1964, when L. H. Martin became the first in a long line of Australian policymakers to argue that education was not a necessary expense but an investment. Investment in education would make individuals and economies more productive, triggering a virtuous circle of economic growth, more equal opportunity, higher levels of health and civic-mindedness, and cultural enrichment. The economic rain would follow the educational plough. It followed …