Australia's primary school system came under the spotlight this week when Notre Dame’s Sydney campus hosted a large parliamentary delegation from Bangladesh.
The 14-strong party, which included several Members of Parliament alongside senior bureaucrats from the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education (MoPME), was keen to find out as much as it could about Australia’s primary school system – and especially how Australia caters for the needs of its most vulnerable and marginalised students.
The ministry is responsible for 37,672 government primary schools in Bangladesh with a current enrolment of some 10.7 million students.
The World Bank says that Bangladesh had made “remarkable gains” in the provision of primary school education over the past two decades, especially for female students, but warns that its educational performance still lags behind the rest of South Asia.
At present school attendance is compulsory for all students in Bangladesh from Grade 1 to 5, but the government has embarked on a program to extend this to Grade 8.
During their visit to Notre Dame the delegation was addressed by senior academics from the School of Education, enjoyed a morning tea with university staff and was given a quick tour of the Broadway campus.
Dr Gerald McRae provided an overview of Australia’s primary education system, looking at public, independent and Catholic schools, while Professor Kevin Watson spoke passionately about the challenges facing Australian teachers and the need to provide a quality education for all children.
The Bangladesh delegation will visit schools and universities in Canberra, Melbourne and Auckland before returning home.
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