For everyone AEU condemns the militarisation of curriculum

The AEU is concerned about an increased trend for weapons companies to develop STEM curriculum that promotes skills and interest in military technology.

The latest research undertaken by the Medical Association for Prevention of War has found that major weapons companies are seeking to build positive brand recognition amongst Australian primary and secondary students. Its findings identified 35 STEM programs associated with global weapons corporations in 2022, up from 27 in 2021. STEM programs sponsored by these companies often target girls and young women, young people in regional Australia, and those living near defence industry clusters, including children as young as four years old.

The AEU is opposed to any moves that allow commercial interests – rather than pedagogy – to shape educational policy and practice. We share the concerns of the Medical Association for Prevention of War about the potential narrowing of STEM education due to the influence of weapons companies, at the expense of natural and physical sciences, and other curriculum that promotes sustainable development. Currently, there are no equivalent interventions in education by other industries in Australia, and most schools, families and children are likely not aware of the core lethal business of the companies involved.

 

A politicised pro-AUKUS curriculum has no place in our schools, alongside other private industries who attempt to use schools as a vehicle for promotion of their own products and profits hidden behind spurious educational benefits for students.

Last year, AEU Federal Executive passed a resolution opposing the AUKUS security pact and demanding that government discontinue the ‘Nuclear-Powered Propulsion Challenge’, promoted by the Department of Defence and the Victorian Department of Education under the guise of providing students with opportunities in the area of STEM. As this resolution states:

The AEU condemns this program, and the use of Australian schools by the Defence Department [to draw] secondary students into the government’s development of new industries focused on armament manufacture and industries associated with warfare. A politicised pro-AUKUS curriculum has no place in our schools, alongside other private industries who attempt to use schools as a vehicle for promotion of their own products and profits hidden behind spurious educational benefits for students.

AEU Victoria wrote to Department Secretary Jenny Atta, in accordance with the Federal Executive resolution, raising our objections and highlighting the contradictions with DE’s policy. This policy specifically states that schools should not engage in sponsorship with organisations involved in the sale or promotion of firearms. Disappointingly, the DE’s response was dismissive of the AEU’s concerns. We will be pursuing this further at our first meeting with the Department Secretary this term.


Read AEU Victorian branch council’s ‘Educating for Peace’ resolution made on 8 December 2023, calling for the Albanese government to advocate for a permanent ceasefire in the Middle East.

    * mandatory fields


    Filed under

    Latest issue out now

    In the Term 2 edition of AEU News, we celebrate our members' professionalism and commitment to their students, their union, and to public education.

    View Latest Edition