The Australian economy could lose more than A$1.5 trillion ($1.55 trillion) over the next 80 years if it fails to address the soonest time possible the loopholes in its education system, an analysis distributed on Monday by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) said.
The study, which noted that although Australia has fairly a good system of primary and secondary education, cannot just sit on laurels that can be easily tarnished. While most of the nations boosted and continued to improve their education system, it was the opposite with Australia.
"Good is not great," the study said.
Australia's ranking in international education tables, the PwC report noted, fell because Australian students' proficiency levels have fallen.
"Australians will pay a high price if we stick with the current broken school funding system," Federal Government Education Minister Peter Garrett said in Sydney on Monday. "If we do nothing, we stand to lose an amount equivalent to everything Australians have produced all year."
"This PwC analysis tells us that if we improve our schools to be competitive with those of world leader Finland, that over the life of a child born this year, our plan would generate an extra $3.6 trillion for the national economy."
The study echoed the changes that Australian Future Fund Chairman David Gonski advised in an earlier report, which said that federal government needs to inject and spend A$5 billion annually to improve education at government-funded schools, especially those in disadvantaged and rural areas.
"This is a strong reminder that the National Plan for School Improvement really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ensure Australia can continue to win the economic race by winning the education race," Mr Garrett said.
In the past 10 years alone, among Organization for Economic Co- Operation and Development nations, from being equal second, Australian children have slipped to seventh in reading, and from equal fifth to 13th in mathematics, according to the Gonski report.