For the past 19 years I have grown up in what you would call a “working class family”. My mum is a teacher, my dad is a public servant, and us three kids have attended public schools our whole life. We are not poor, but we are not rich, either. Though it is my absolute belief that we have always been rich in other ways.
We are rich in the values as a family. One of my favourite things about my family is that we have many big discussions that often last for days. We talk about how our day was, as well as our ideas and beliefs. We discuss philosophy, science and politics. We have open conversations about almost anything and we don’t fear being wrong or being shot down because we all have something to bring to the table. We have also always had the freedom to make our own decisions about what we choose to believe in this world.
But I’m not here today to drone on about how much I love my family and how much we like to talk. Right now, I’m just painting you a picture of where I come from because today I’m going to talk about my passion for education.
My dad in particular always taught us about the importance of education and how we should never take our education for granted. With my mum being a teacher, well, it was to be expected that she was always the one to enforce those values by hassling us about doing our homework, to work hard and do our best.
One of my favourite quotes, is:
“man makes his own destiny, but not under the conditions of his own choosing”
This is the idea that we decide what we choose to do in life, no matter what our circumstances are, and we do that by taking the opportunities that come before us.
One of those big opportunities is education. Education is a right in this country, something that every child has access to and that is pretty spectacular. This opportunity is something that does not exist for many children in third world countries and for that we are extremely privileged over here. That is the first reason why I was to taught to value the education I had, and to not take it for granted.
Secondly, education has become somewhat of a personal asset of mine. When something like a disability takes away your ability to do certain things you have to find ways around it. The fact that I’m useless at sport or other physical activities lead me to become the nerd I am today. I rely on my academic smarts to determine what I want to be or do in life. I kept my nose stuck in textbooks late at night, typing furiously at a keyboard and spending hours writing out copious study notes because this is what I’m good at and this is what is going to get me through life.
I’ll be dammed if I let anyone take away my education, thus my ability to shine.
Finally, I want to point out that to me it just makes sense that education makes the world go around. At school, we learn about history, science, mathematics, and English. All of these skills we will continue to use in our daily lives. We can also learn a lot of personal development lessons, social values and life skills both directly and indirectly through participating in school. Once we finish school, our education is what leads us on to university, TAFE or apprenticeships off the bat. We keep learning until one day we land a job and after that we learn even more.
Education creates labour, labour fills jobs, jobs create economic activity, economic activity creates growth and thus the world keeps on going. Our material and non-material living standards increase and the economy is better off for it. Education is important, and it is vital for our functioning as a society and as an economy.
Would you look at that? I just referenced my impeccable economics knowledge. Education rules!
With all of that in mind, its no surprise that education is probably my number one passion in life. I would fight for education to the ends of the earth. I have a feeling that this passion of mine will take me places someday, places far beyond the boundaries of my little home suburb. But for now, this is where I’m at.
For the past five weeks I have been campaigning for my local High School; Sunshine Secondary College. Our goal is to make certain that we get the proper facilities that any school should have, built without sparing any necessary expense and time.
You’ve seen the photos, you’ve heard the evidence. Our school is a disgrace and there is no way in hell that anyone would put up with that. Yet, countless times we have had to reiterate that our students have been putting up with it for 12 years.
I might be finished school now but that is precisely why I’m still campaigning. I was part of the generation who missed out on decent facilities. I was directly affected by the state that the school is in right now. but I refuse to let another generation of students, my sister and brother, put up with what we did.
I remember driving down the halls of my junior campus and having to dodge buckets that had been put out to catch the dripping that was coming from the ceiling because we had a hole up there on a rainy day. I remember standing outside of my English classroom every morning as I waited for my teacher to get the door open wide enough so that I could get my wheelchair through – the door jammed nearly every time. I’ve seen the mould in the walls and the ceilings, I’ve seen the toilets with “out of order” signs, I’ve driven over 20 or so different cracks a day in the old court yard that looks like meteors have hit it, and I just wonder how the hell did we let this happen?
It is so unquestionably clear that a good education begins with good facilities to be educated in. A good education starts with gearing teachers and students with the tools and resources required. The longer you deny students decent facilities, the longer you deny students a decent education. Some politicians need to wake up to this realisation.
It sickens me that politics is at the root of our problem here. I don’t understand why common sense and morality doesn’t outweigh how important political gain is at the moment. But that is the reality. Which is why is our job to stand up and fight.
I have done everything in power to fight for this school. Whatever party takes up government now holds our fate in their hands. I just hope that whatever happens this Saturday, that whoever ends up on top, does not forget to prioritise funding schools and education properly. I hope that schools like Sunshine College are put at the forefront.
And I realise that many of you reading this will find it hard to sympathise with a school that you or your kids don’t attend, or a school that is not even in your area. But I’m sure we can all agree on one thing. That no matter where they live in this country, who they are or what their background is, every child deserves a good education.
…and nothing less!