ACT Labor have promised 25 teacher librarians for ACT public schools, as well as more than 400 teachers and support staff, if elected in October.
Labor’s education spokesperson Yvette Berry said the teachers are “the most important factor” in securing good education outcomes for students.
She pledged scholarships for “up to 10 interested teachers a year” to complete the required qualifications for a teacher librarian, as well as additional funding for schools to employ them, prioritising schools in need.
“A qualified teacher librarian requires a four-year teaching degree and a masters degree,” Ms Berry said.
She said the 25 new librarians would be in ACT public schools by the end of the next term of government.
The Canberra Liberals have pledged $15.5 million for 50 new, full-time teacher librarian positions, as part of their education policy announced earlier this month.
Education spokesperson for the Canberra Liberals, Elizabeth Lee, said as well as contributing to improving students’ literacy skills, “they teach students how to navigate the digital realm, how to problem solve, how to research and explore ideas”.
“They open students up to a world of critical, creative and information literacy and provide them with a supportive learning environment.”
Secretary of the Australian Education Union (AEU) ACT Branch, Glenn Fowler, said the view of the membership is that every ACT public school should have a full-time teacher librarian.
“There’s a mistaken view that once the internet came, that teacher librarians and libraries became less important, but nothing could be further from the truth,” he said.
“They are incredibly important specialists within a school.
“It’s unfair for some children to have access … and for other kids to miss out.”
Mr Fowler did, however, question the Liberals plan from the perspective of training and qualifications for the 50 new positions.
“These 50 teacher librarians aren’t just out there ready to go into schools … what’s the plan?” he said.
The ACT Greens have backed the Union’s views on a teacher librarian for all public schools, and have said “we support the need for the ACT Government to employ more dedicated and fully qualified teacher librarians”.