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Lutheran schools and education were a priority for Lutherans who migrated to the United States and Australia from Germany and Scandinavia. One of the first things they did was to create schools for their children. This strong educational tradition was handed down from Martin Luther himself.
The first Lutheran school in Australia opened in 1839. At 2013, there were twenty-seven Lutheran-run primary and secondary schools in Queensland, thirty-three in South Australia and sixteen in Victoria, with a much smaller number in each of the other states and territories. The body overseeing these is Lutheran Education Australia, which has a branch in each State.
There has been a very significant growth in Australian Lutheran school enrolments over the twenty-five years and particularly in the decade up tp 2011. As of August 2011, 37 313 Australian children attended Lutheran schools, with another 3 600 in early childhood centres. At this time, there were 3 249 teachers employed at Lutheran schools around Australia.
When the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) was founded in 1847, this tradition of Lutheran education was continued. The synod was started by twelve churches that operated a total of nineteen schools. Several of the churches operated a number of schools in the rural countryside so that students would not have to walk too far to school each day.
For the most part, Lutheran schools are operated by individual congregations. Some schools are operated by groups of congregations, or associations. The schools are autonomous in that they hire their own teachers, select their own curriculum, and set their own fees. In the past most of the costs were paid by the operating congregations. With the economic situation that exists today more and more of the operating funds come from tuition and fees.
The LCMS operates the largest Protestant school system in the United States. As of the 2016-17 school year, the LCMS operates 1,150 Early Childhood Centers, 793 elementary schools, and 86 high schools. The LCMs also operates ten universities and two seminaries. These schools educate more than 280,000 students and are taught by almost 22,000 teachers. Lutheran schools operated by the LCMS also exist in Hong Kong, mainland China, and Vietnam.
The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) currently operates 403 early childhood education centers (largely preschools), 313 elementary schools, and 27 high schools. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) operates 1,573 early childhood programs, 296 elementary schools, and 14 high schools as of December 31, 2016.
In 2011, Valparaiso University recorded 140 Lutheran high schools in operation of various denominations.