EDUCATION THEN AND NOW
Education in Australia has changed greatly since Federation. In 1900 the Colonies had 6,900 State schools to service their 3.8 million population, with an enrolment of 623,700 pupils. A further 153,400 students were apparently enrolled in private schools---however, these numbers were not considered reliable. In 1900 secondary schooling was a privilege offered only to a small minority of young people. In 1910 the Commonwealth Statistician said that "the average boy or girl simply leaves the State School at the age of fourteen or thereabouts, and the State apparently no longer concerns itself with them".1 At the start of Federation, technical education had not been fostered for some time. In Victoria, "it was not until after the publication of the Report of the Royal Commission on Technical Education (which was appointed in 1899) that many defects were remedied".2 Also, there were only four universities, those of Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Tasmania, with around 2,000 students in total.
In 1999 Australia had 3.2 million school students, of whom 2.2 million were in Government schools and 1.0 million in private schools. Vocational Education and Training (VET) was well patronised with 1.6 million clients, and there were 42 publicly-funded higher education institutions attended by 686,300 higher education students.
The 1911 Census found 31,700 persons employed in education, who made up 1.6% of civilian 'breadwinners'. In contrast, the May 2000 Labour Force Survey estimated employment in education at 615,400, representing 6.8% of the civilian labour force.
1 Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics 1911, Official Year Book of the Commonwealth of Australia No.4, McCarron, Bird & Co. Printers, Melbourne: p. 892.
2 Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics 1908, Official Year Book of the Commonwealth of Australia No.1, McCarron, Bird & Co. Printers, Melbourne: p. 745.