World Book and Copyright Day a Trigger for new Reading Initiative

April 22, 2013

In conjunction with World Book and Copyright Day (April 23), Copyright Agency is announcing an initiative to expose Australia’s rich writing heritage to future generations – and is releasing the results of a survey that show time-poor teachers need help finding quality resources for the classroom.

As UNESCO states, “Books are our allies in spreading education, science, culture and information worldwide,” and “respect for copyright encourages the dissemination of knowledge and rewards their creators and publishers”.

Copyright Agency’s philanthropic initiative, Reading Australia, which will be online in the second half of this year, will begin to address the absence of Australian literature in both schools and universities through a dedicated website and specially created educational resources.

Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund Manager, Zoë Rodriguez, says “Australia has a proud and rich literary history, but the current generation is missing out on experiencing these great works as they just aren’t being taught in the classroom.

“Reading Australia just received a cash injection of $266,300 through the Cultural Fund, to commission teaching resources for the website. Educational partners, such as the University of New England, and highly-regarded Australian authors, will contribute their expertise. In addition, many out-of-print works will be digitised to make them available, once again, to the public.”

An esteemed group of Australian authors has selected an initial list of 200 novels, plays, biographies, poetry and children’s fiction for the launch of Reading Australia. Copyright Agency CEO, Jim Alexander, says “This First 200 list is just the beginning.”

“We know Reading Australia will have an impact because recent research commissioned by Copyright Agency found that teachers spend between two and 15 hours a week of their own time, and up to $200 annually of their own money, sourcing teaching content online.”

Indeed, according to the research, searching for and evaluating the suitability of online resources to support lesson planning has become the single largest time investment for teachers outside of school hours.

“Teachers are already under pressure dealing with a new curriculum and a technological revolution. On top of that, there are enormous expectations that ‘good teachers’ tailor-make their classroom content. This is particularly burdensome for primary school teachers, who rely less on core texts for teaching subjects,” Mr Alexander says.

There is no central destination that assists teachers to navigate to quality materials, with a Google search being the strategy of choice for most. The research also found that as a result of the burden, the majority of teachers just “make do”. While a significant minority spend more than 10 hours outside of school time searching.

“It’s clear teachers need assistance to find quality content,” says Mr Alexander. “Reading Australia will go some way to address the issue.”