Early childhood educators have an important role in enhancing student outcomes. It is important that the federal government and educators work together to lift the quality of early childhood education in Australia. Here are some challenges that educators are facing in Australia.
Oversupply of Educators
The education industry has been poorly planned by governments around the world. In Australia, supply far outweighs demand which makes it important to stand out from the pack by upskilling.
The Australian Government removed the cap on undergraduate positions in 2012. In the last 10 years, enrolments in teaching courses have more than doubled. This led to some universities enrolling as many students as possible to exploit funding they receive for doing so.
This has resulted in an oversupply of early childhood educators as universities see education degrees as guaranteed money. This is even more reason to focus on upskilling yourself to become a more knowledgeable educator.
Enthusiasm in STEM Fields
Despite the large number of early childhood educators in Australia, there is still a lack of enthusiasm in STEM fields.
For example, in high schools, 20% of mathematics and 17% of science teachers are unqualified to teach those classes. They do their best to teach classes on subjects that they have little knowledge of. This means that kids don’t always get that spark of enthusiasm in STEM fields.
Having early childhood educators that bring passion to STEM subjects can make these classes something that children enjoy and explore when they reach primary and secondary school.
Education Careers are Undervalued
To attract the best people to a field, we also need to hold early childhood educators in high regard. Educating at any level is one of the most challenging jobs someone can do. Many countries don’t recognise the challenge of this field. Some countries like Finland demand graduate teaching qualifications which bring real world experience and knowledge to their education system.
Victoria and South Australia are already entertaining the prospect of graduate-only entry into education courses. South Australia also intends to require government schools to give employment preference to graduates with master’s or double degrees.
Some may argue that it creates a barrier for entry to people who are trying to enter education courses. The counterpoint to that would be that it highlights the importance of upskilling and increases the quality of early childhood education in Australia. Not to mention, increasing the value of early childhood educators to not just be people that teach their subject, but are an authority in their field.