As it would be observed, the Australian education policy has witnessed robust reforms over the last few decades. Australian school leaders and policymakers in the sector have not been lucky to escape the impacts of social and economic globalization which has continued to pose new opportunities as well as challenges in almost all segments of the global society.
For this reason, there have been a lot of concerns in the educational sector, where a multidisciplinary approach to a broad range of political and social issues has been used to address the many issues affecting the Australian education policy.
These dynamics of policy in the education sector have called for broader community and governmental actions in the recent past, thus paving way for more appropriate policies through a joint mission of educational policy and educational research.
As much as we can see it, those levels of achievements are likely to exemplify new opportunities for educational research at all levels, hence opening ways for further reforms in the sector (Luke, 2003). This would, in turn, enable the Australian schools serve the economic and social interests of its present and future generation.
As a matter of fact, there are many contemporary policy issues affecting Australian education programs currently, and this presents new challenges to the Australian school leaders and educators, among other systems.
This paper provides an in-depth overview of gender policy in the education sector with an inclusive discussion of how the policy has changed over the years and the influences it would have on the Australian education in general at the national level.
This paper draws from study on gender reform policies in Australian schools and it shows some of the key strengths and limitations of the policy on the educational system at all levels.
Australia recognizes freedom of gender identity as a fundamental human right and for this reason; the educational system, among other major institutions in the country has made a concerted effort in promoting gender-inclusive programs and approaches within the school program.
I will begin by offering a brief analysis of gender reform for schools in Australia since the inception of the reforms in the year 1975 followed by an insight into the recent developments. The main roles of education are not limited to providing the young generation of humans a certain access to professional life and a decent future.
However, the enrolment and admission of all people in educational programmes, no matter their social identities is part of the wider concern of the Australian educational system, as one way of promoting the process of education throughout the life of the learners.
Gender equality in educational system is based on bringing out the understanding that, the outcomes realized in education for both boys and girls are likely to arise from the impact of gender on the interests, expectations and behaviors of both sexes (Lingard & Ozga, 2007).
The gender policy in this context is based on directing a range of appropriate strategies at the school level to ensure full understanding of gender equity as one of the major aspects that are certain to influence the daily experiences of boys and girls in learning institutions. This way, Australia offers a smart example of the approaches which a developed country has to take in dealing with the issue of equity in the society.
Australia, like many other developed countries, has a heterogeneous population, which constitutes of indigenous people and immigrants from different ethnic backgrounds. Among the many social identities presented in these groups, there is the issue of gender equity, which is one of the major challenges facing the policymakers in the country and which is yet to get a definitive solution.
It was in the course of 1970s when a semi-autonomous body was first launched in the Australia, to advice the government on crucial matters in the education sector. Among other issues affecting the department then, the issue of gender equity received the first priority as special programmes were intercepted to address the diverse controversies surrounding the issue (Taskforce, 1997).
Out of these programmes, a framework for Australian learning institutions joined hands with parents and stakeholders in the sector, to come out with broad proposals for areas of actions that needed to be taken in addressing the issue of gender equality in the Australian educational system.
These were some of the integral interventions that paved way for the first inspection into the issue of gender equality in learning facilities and other institutions in the country as it was outlined in the ‘Girls, Schools and Society’ report that was first published in 1975.
To be able to address the differing concerns appropriately, as they were stipulated by gender stereotyping, it was necessary for all the players in this transformational role to acknowledge that gender was certainly a central issue for both girls and boys in Australia.
For instance, it was obviously clear that the needs of boys were not effectively being addressed by the educators, for their opportunities in educational and vocational experiences were highly restricted by some versions of masculinity in the society.
On the other hand, girls were observed to be often disadvantaged in matters regarding schooling and social development and this explained the reason why there would be markedly different results of girls and boys performance in schools.
These concepts of feminism and masculinity would often end up defining children from both sexes as opposites simply by treating them with unequal gestures of status and value in schools (Lingard, 2003). The diverse Australian community looked to education as a major agent in the preparation of future leaders in civic and domestic lives and for that reason, it responded by trying to develop understandings on the impact of gender construction to the society.
These developments were appropriate in addressing the surging issue of gender differentiation in schools and they helped in streamlining skills for the entire education system to understand the impact of gender construction and be able to adopt strategies that will improve gender relations in various segments of the society.
The many developments that would present in the gender policy revolved around federal and legislative political stages in the course of 1980s and 1990s, an era that saw great commitment in the formalization of integral frameworks which addressed the issue of gender equity in schools and other institutions in the society.
Following these intervention programmes, Australia would make entry into historical records for being the first Western country to introduce a national gender policy by implementing the “National Policy for the Education of Girls.” These foundations would later play a significant role in facilitating the framework for the winning action plan on gender equity in the Australian education system.
To ensure that the gender policy achieves its purpose in the Australian schooling context, school leaders have over the years adopted new effective ways of curbing gender construction in learning institutions (Ball, 2008). This program mainly involves school teachers in all levels, as the agents who play a crucial role in the shaping of students’ minds at school.
Teachers are indeed the greatest resources in schools and their influence on students normally accounts for the greatest measure on the overall learning and understanding of learners in schools.
In this regard, plans to improve teacher quality in Australian schools have been conceived to enhance school leadership and high-quality teaching practices that improve students understanding on social identities such as gender and how gender equities are likely to shape their learning experiences.
As it would be observed, Melbourne Declaration of the year 2008 among other key policies such as the MCEETYA are some of the major recent interventions in the country which have brought great impacts in the development of the gender policy in the Australian school system. As it observed from this report, the issue of gender policy in Australia has been a big challenge to the education sector.
However, the Australian govern, policymakers, and education leaders have teamed up over the years to promote gender understanding in all positions through development of management and institutional practices that would be consistent with principles of gender equity in schools.
These interventions have continued to play a crucial role in ensuring that gender equity in the Australian education system is maintained for a better society (Cranston & Ehrich, 2009).
As a result of these practices, all children in Australia are able to access valuable and rewarding education and other social development programs in the society, regardless of their sex or gender differences.
The transformations in Australian gender policies as observed from this report are likely to bring forth important gender relationships, where both women and men will be able to interact with each other freely and take part in a society characterized by equal benefits, services and opportunities.
By trying to understand the potential impacts of gender-based relationship in schooling facilities, Australia has managed to come up with effective action plans and intervention in all levels, to develop culturally sensitive grounds for all its citizens.
Ball, S. (2008). The Education Debate. Bristol: The Policy Press.
Cranston, N. & Ehrich, L. (Eds.) (2009). Australian school leadership today. Brisbane: Australian Academic Press.
Lingard, B. (2003). Where to in gender policy in education after recuperative masculinity politics? International Journal of Inclusive Education, 7 (1), 33-56.
Lingard, B. & Ozga, J. (2007). The RoutledgeFalmer Reader in Education Policy and Politics. New York: Routledge.
Luke, A. (2003). After the Marketplace: Evidence, Social Science and Educational Research. The Australian Educational Researcher, 30 (2), 87-95.
Taskforce, G. (1997). Gender equity: A framework for Australian schools. Canberra: Ministerial Council for Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs, 94 (12), 59-74.