It's time to close the chasm in our national education system

The three Rs – reading, writing and arithmetic – are the basic skills which will not only help our children through school, but are vital for adulthood.

Without these three skills, how will an adult read a job advert or write an application, get their driver’s licence, or work out a budget to save for a house?

It seems Australian children are not only falling through the cracks of the education system, but the crack is now a chasm.

The latest research findings by the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth shows our nation’s children are lagging behind when it comes to developing basic skills in primary school.

The five-year snapshot shows Australia ranks 35th out of 40 OECD countries on preschool attendance and the number of four and five-year-olds who attend has dropped in recent years.

It also shows three-in-10 Year 4 students are not meeting minimum maths standards, while one-in-four are below standard in science and one-in-five are not at the required reading level.

While there will always been some children who, due to medical conditions or a disability, will not be able to reach the minimum standards, this latest research shows there are many more children who should be at that standard, but are still lagging behind.

Australia is not a third world country, particularly when it comes to basic education. Yes, there are pockets of poverty, but on the whole we should not be close to the bottom of the class when it comes to such an important issue as education.

Where do our leaders need to look to improve this situation? Do we need to address at the caliber of students looking to gain the DipEd and become our future teachers? Although many states have raised the benchmark when it comes to accepting VCE graduates into teaching courses.

Are we, as parents, failing at home when it comes to reading to our children and helping them with their homework? Although the latest Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth research shows the rate of parents reading to their two-year-olds at least once a week has stayed static, with an encouraging lift among indigenous families.

The education of our children is far too important to just sweep the issue under the carpet. This problem needs to be addressed, and now, before more children fall through the cracks.