Saving Money by Spending: Solving Illiteracy in Australia

The disgusting situation we find ourselves in, is this: after decades of combined advocacy, we have had to resort to setting aside our focus on human misery and social injustice. Instead, we are now appealing to the dollar as a source of political motivation.

For years, we have been banging on about the emotional toll, mental health impacts, and effective malpractice that sees the continuation of one of the most shamefully neglected and easily solvable issues in our country: helping kids become literate.

But today, with thanks to Equity Economics, we’re trying this: illiteracy is costing Australians 12 billion dollars in lost earnings a year. It would take a mere $942 million in the 2023/24 year to fix the problem, yielding a thirteen-fold return on investment.

To put this spend in context, the Commonwealth Government provides recurrent funding for every student enrolled at a school. In 2023, recurrent funding for schools is estimated to total $27.3 billion. The trend over many years has been increasing funding to deliver decreasing results – this is partly about spending the budget more wisely, in areas we know will give bang for buck.

It would help all students, it would take some of the load off teachers, and it would take some of the load off parents.

Code REaD commissioned Equity Economics to prepare this report, and submitted it to the National School Reform Agreement Expert Panel in August 2023. This is the public release of the report, which we hope will contribute to the findings of the Panel, who will set the agenda for national school reform, for the next 4-5 years. This is a rare opportunity.

Please, circulate this report within your networks, send to your local representatives, and generally make a noise… and not just because it’s costing $12 billion!

Subscribe to receive the latest news and updates

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.