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Closing the Gap in Education?




In November 2009 a notable conference was held at the campus of Monash South Africa, near Johannesburg. It was the third international conference in a highly successful series of partnerships between the Monash Institute for the Study of Global Movements (MISGM) and Monash South Africa.

Entitled Closing the Gap in Education?, the conference attracted distinguished international speakers, including the 2009 Australian of the Year, Professor Mick Dodson AM, who is among the most eminent of Monash University’s graduates. In addition, leading scholars, officials and educationalists from South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Britain participated, and this volume of refereed papers, published by Monash University Publishing, is the outcome of their presentations.

The themes of the conference were the pressing challenges facing education systems in three southern world societies – Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. Of special concern was the way in which the needs of marginalised students in both urban fringe and remote regional areas are being met.

The comparisons between these three different countries are set against the background of their considerable underlying similarities, including colonial settlement histories, multicultural societies, and separate dualistic pockets of poverty and affluence.

On behalf of Monash University, I would like to thank all the contributors who participated in the conference and subsequently produced papers for refereeing and publication. The university owes them a particular debt of gratitude.

A special feature of the conference, as of others mounted by MISGM at Monash South Africa in 2008 and 2006, was the attendance of local students, who added immeasurably, I understand, to the quality and interest of questions and debate. I wish to express my special pleasure in their welcome participation.

I would also like to acknowledge the vocal group Sweet Oasis, composed entirely of Monash South Africa students, who entertained the conference delegates with their fine performance; and all those at Monash South Africa, under the leadership of Professor Tyrone Pretorius, as well as the Monash Melbourne organisers, Irene Thavarajah and Sahar Sana, for their efforts in ensuring the conference’s success.

Finally, I thank the conceivers of the conference, and editors of this volume, Professors Ilana Snyder and John Nieuwenhuysen, for this initiative, which once more shows the value of Monash’s international spread in enabling scholarly networking and comparative publications of great importance for economic development and social justice.




Professor Ed Byrne AO

Vice-Chancellor and President

Monash University

Closing the Gap in Education?

   by Ilana Snyder and John Nieuwenhuysen