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Pre-school education rate ‘incomprehensible’

Australia lags behind in key childhood education and wellbeing statistics, according to a new study.

Australia trails many OECD countries when it comes to access to early learning, according to the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth.

ARACY’s Report Card: The Wellbeing of Young Australians found Australia is 30th out of 34 OECD nations when it comes to the number of children receiving early education.

Early childhood expert and director of Family and Children’s Services at Victoria’s Doveton College, June McLoughlin, said that the report showed that Australia invests poorly in pre-school learning.

“It is incomprehensible that with pre-school age children having access to early learning, we’re 30th out of 34 OECD nations,” McLoughlin said.

The March 15 report stated that Australia also ranked relatively low in: infant vaccinations to prevent disease (29th  out of 34), teenage pregnancy rates (22nd), keeping our kids safe from death and injuries (22nd) , infant mortality rates (22nd), and youth suicide rates (20th).

There is also a 30 per cent obesity rate among youth aged 15- 24 and more than one-in-10 young people suffer from high levels of psychological distress.

When it comes to school performance, 15-year-olds seem to be doing well but their primary school counterparts ranked below average for reading, maths and science. Meanwhile, one in six children are not being educated and the same proportion lived below the poverty line in 2010.

The report concludes that Australia needs to make a lot of progress in several areas relating to the safety and security of children when compared to other OECD countries.

ARACY board member and paediatrician , Dr Gervase Chaney, said: “For a nation which prides itself on being healthy, we are not doing as well as we could in areas such as immunisation, childhood obesity and measures relating to child abuse and neglect. These are issues we can address, and we need to.”

ARACY CEO, Dr Lance Emerson, said that the organisation’s project, The Nest: A national plan for child and youth wellbeing, aimed to encourage state and federal governments to maximise their investment for future generations.

The cooperation of parents, young people and numerous organisations was needed to improve the wellbeing of children, he said.

Source: http://www.aracy.org.au/documents/item/109

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