Monday, October 10, 2005

Victorian School Students In Stinking Third World Conditions

Reports today that Victorian state school buildings are among Australia's
worst
come as no surprise given the Bracks Government's appaling neglect of school maintenance.

Facilities of some schools, particularly in rural Victoria are absolutely disgraceful. I recently visited Middle Indigo Primary School which would easily have the worst toilet block facilities I have ever seen. To describe their conditions as anything but third world would be an understatement.

It seems that this school - and many other small schools in rural Victoria - are out of sight and definitely out of the mind of Jacinta Allan and Lynne Kosky who are ensconced in a comfortable air-conditioned suite in a smart central Melbourne office complex.

However the students and staff at Middle Indigo Primary are forced to use a toilet block with no electricity and no locks on the doors. There is orange paint on walls signifying asbestos exposure and in the boys' toilets the urinal runs straight into the soil.

At nearby Barnawartha Primary School near Wodonga students are expected to learn in classrooms which are simply falling apart. Our students and teachers are being forced to study and work in third world conditions because the Bracks Government has slashed maintenance funding at our schools. Documents obtained under Freedom of Information (FoI) last year revealed dozens of schools were hundreds of millions of dollars behind in their maintenance.

The 2001 audit showed dozens of Victorian schools had massive maintenance backlogs, in some cases, running into a quarter of a million dollars.

Labor's Education Services Minister Jacinta Allan and Education Minister Lynne Kosky must come clean with the current maintenance backlog and renew funding to fix the stinking toilet blocks, peeling paint, poor heating, rotting window frames and leaking roofs.

It is bad for morale, and in some cases health, for students to go to school in such appalling conditions. How can we expect children to be enthusiastic and keen to learn when their classroom is stinking hot and the toilets are leaking and unhygienic?

Labor claims education is its number one priority, but it can't even get the basics right. The last time Labor was in office it left a school maintenance backlog of $700 million and by the time the next State Election comes around, our schools will be back in this position.

The previous Liberal Government implemented a world standard system for maintaining our state schools which was dumped when Steve Bracks took over government.

Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) are worthy of consideration but would not have been necessary had the Bracks Government continued to properly fund school maintenance when it gained office six years ago.

Brackswatch would like to thank the contributor of this post, whose identity is as of yet unknown. Anyone else interested in submitting a post can do so here. It is also worth noting that a recent report by the Commonwealth Department of Education, Science and Training found Victoria's primary school curricullum to be among the slackest in the country.

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