Date: 25 October 2012
I OPPOSE the Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Bill.
I am not writing as a beneficiary but as a concerned citizen. I oppose the compulsory requirements for all children of beneficiaries to:
Attend Early Childhood Education (ECE) from the age of three, until they start school
Attend school from age five or six
Here are my grounds for opposing:
The statistics, which are meant to help target those who need help are now being used to take away freedom of choice. Enforced loss of freedom is a form of punishment, used when dealing with criminals. A beneficiary is not a criminal, by default.
Government institutions cannot replace the parent’s role in a child’s life. It is a well researched, known and documented fact that it is parental involvement that makes the difference in regards to educational outcomes, not the institutional education of a child.
Forced institutionalized education will give the irresponsible parent an excuse to step back and leave the education of her child totally up to the government. A parent not involved in their child’s education will be predisposing their child to learning difficulties.
Encouraging and rewarding responsible parents will have greater long term benefits. Responsible being defined here as: those demonstrating motivation and commitment to selflessly providing their children with the best possible environment for learning, whether choosing to send them to ECE or by enriching their home environment and engaging in the kind of activities that facilitate exploration and learning.
A responsible mother at home is already engaged in unpaid work. The government cannot afford to replace her. According to Salary.com, the average stay-at-home mom’s task load equates to a 95-hour work week. If she were paid the minimum adult wage ($13.50) her salary would be $66,690, before tax.
Mothers looking after preschoolers at home are part of a community. They help give the community its definition by being at home during the day. There may be lonely people, elderly, other mothers and students who are benefiting from her and her children’s presence. She may also be involved in voluntary community work that would suffer if she were made to go out and work.
Making it just about impossible for a beneficiary to home educate is unwise. Homeschooling has been proven to be more effective in producing achievers. Thomas Edison’s mother removed her son from school and educated him at home because, ‘In school, the young Edison’s mind often wandered, and his teacher, the Reverend Engle, was overheard calling him “addled”. This ended Edison’s three months of official schooling. Edison recalled later, “My mother was the making of me. She was so true, so sure of me; and I felt I had something to live for, someone I must not disappoint” (Wikipedia).
It is possible for a beneficiary who wants to dedicate their time and energy to educating their child/children to be able to do so. With the computer and an increasing number of resources available this option is now well within reach of a low income beneficiary. If they succeed in their application for an exemption from school, under current Education Department requirements, no other criteria should need to be met. The beneficiary should be exempt from normal work obligations so that they have time to teach their child.
If a parent has been legally homeschooling already and needs to go on the benefit because of a change in circumstances e.g. such as the death of a spouse, they should be able to continue without needing to adhere to a whole new set of criteria. She has proved her competency already.