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As a parent and an educator, I want to do more than just highlight the faults of our education system; I hope to shed some light on why it is failing our children. Because I call Australia home, I feel the obligation to be more than the voice asking for change and to be the person actioning it.

As a teacher, I exited the school system to follow my aching desire to repair it. I used my time researching the reasons behind the difficulty students face understanding mathematics. I found the answer in Cognitive Load Theory, which is taught to future teachers at UNSW and many other universities in Australia. The sad part is that the theory is not practised in schools or included in the designing of instructional material. Adding to the problem is the lack of approved textbooks in primary schools. I have met and worked with many frustrated teachers who are suffering silently from this problem. They have limited to no support when it comes to choosing the right resources for the classes, all the while juggling lesson planning, reports, paperwork, and other vast matters.

My three children have gone through the public system. I have experienced firsthand the pain parents are feeling, especially if they have come from another country where they enjoyed more interaction and contact with the schoolteachers. I know how excluded they feel when it comes to understanding what their children are doing at school. There are no textbooks that parents can follow and minimal to no homework sent home. It leaves parents in the dark. They are unable to follow the content taught at school, nor the progression. None of the assessments are sent home to view, and they can only dream of meeting the teacher, past the shallow emails and reports. Going through the gatekeepers and meeting the teacher is a near-impossible mission. Having dealt with many helpless parents who have no one to turn to, I have been encouraged to be their voice. They have poured out their frustration, their helplessness and anger as the system is constantly failing them and their children.

The latest national and international results show Australia’s ranking decreasing in the basic measures of teaching and learning. Australia is failing in Maths, Science, and Reading and it’s clear from the results of NAPLAN, ICAS, and PISA. When the results are released everyone is reading them, and our media is covering it and our politicians comment on it, but where is the action? We need an emergency plan, not another review on the education system or another hundred reports. We know where the problems are, we just need to take action.

– Dr Majeda Awawdeh, founder of Global Education Academy