Rebecca Huntley Columnist

Rebecca is a director of The Mind & Mood Report, an author and social commentator with a background in publishing, academia and politics. She holds degrees in law and film studies and a PhD in Gender Studies.

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Education in full boom

Published 21 February 2013 00:16, Updated 21 February 2013 10:36

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Education in full boom

There are countless ways companies can become involved in parents’ push to give their kids a better education. Photo: Quentin Jones

In the post-global financial crisis environment, amid all the talk about consumers saving and cutting down spending on this and that, there have been a few areas where we have observed a greater rather than a lesser preparedness to spend. One of those areas has been education.

I’ve sat in lounge rooms with mums who’ve taken on a second job or a Tupperware gig to fund private school tuition. Dads who’ve given up a hobby to cover tutoring fees. And grandparents who chip in every year for school excursions and extracurricular activities. Not to mention the grandparents who have had to step in to cover private school fees for parents who’d been hit by the effects of the GFC.

Now the ABS is telling us enrolments in private high schools in NSW have risen and enrolments in public schools have declined. This trend has been linked to, the easing of the global financial crisis, but it’s so much more than that.

Regardless of the ups and downs of the economy, you’re going to see parents investing considerably more money, effort and time into their kids’ education in years to come. Australians look at our economy and with their anxiety about its future direction comes a greater emphasis on providing their kids with the best possible education.

And the best possible education equals the best chance to find success in whatever labour market might emerge nationally or globally in the future. The dominant view is that “best possible” means private, or a terrific public school (which means buying into an expensive area), plus tutoring.

More than just spending money, we hear parents talk about their involvement in homework and school activities, despite having busy schedules. And they justify spending on products such as tablets on the basis of how these enrich their child’s ability to learn.

There are countless opportunities here for product and service providers to tap into parental interest in home-based involvement with their children’s education from cradle to university. Or they can find ways to support local public schools – as both Coles and Woolies have done, with much success. They could connect their brand with the concept of continuous and creative learning, either through events or via the digital arena.

More than leaving a decent inheritance or helping with a housing deposit, giving your kid the best education is your best legacy.

Mind & Mood Report director Rebecca Huntley is an author and social commentator.

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