Last week the twenty Rural Youth Ambassadors met with a number of people, state working groups, and education organisations sharing their thoughts and ideas as to how they would like rural and remote education enhanced into the future.
With great integrity, this outstanding group of young people, representing rural communities across Victoria, identified two key initiatives that they believe would enhance education provision for young people within these communities, and provide a strong base upon which education into the future could be provided:
- Rural Inspire – a concept developed by the Rural Youth Ambassadors a couple of years ago to inspire rural and remote young people in realising their dreams that incorporates a number of initiatives including; facilitating partnerships between urban and rural education communities; supporting the transition of rural young people to further study or work, especially in relation to information, support and advice; linking “successful” rural people back to their community as mentors, work experience providers and guest presenters; information source for rural students looking into further study: creating networks of rural students across the state; aspiration leadership program “Leader In Me” for upper primary and junior secondary young people.
Click on the following for more information: Rural Inspire Overview
or click on the link: Rural Inspire
- Connecting Schools – encouraging education organisations within rural and remote communities to work together to enhance the learning opportunities for children and young people within them. Key initiatives could include sharing staff across education settings, joint curriculum programs with common timetables; sharing of finances and resources; and the involvement of the whole community in education.
The Rural Youth Ambassadors encouraged governments and education sectors to support rural and remote schools to work together within their communities, and suggested to the state government to establish an incentive mechanism that encouraged education organisations to work together – thus increasing the learning opportunities that are offered to children and young people within these communities, and assisting them in realising their dreams.
One of the Rural Youth Ambassadors shared their experience as a young person within a rural school as part of the groups presentation to educators, politicians and key stakeholders:
Rural school numbers are decreasing across many of our communities, which is something I suppose that as a rural student I have become accustomed to. But this decline in numbers does not make it easy on rural and remote schools to continue running, and especially providing the learning that we would love access to.
Just last year (as a Year 10 student) I had four students leave my school – all from my year level. They make a total of eight students to leave my year since I was in Year 7 (which represents 30% of students leaving since we started in Year 7). The following reasons were given as to why these four students left our school after Year 10:
- The first student, who was an “A grade student”, always excelled in all her classes and work. She was also a great leader and role model for younger students. She decided to go to a regional centre private school, and the only reason she went, was she thinks that she would not be able to study the program she needed in our small country town we call home. She would have been a great asset to our small community.
- The second student left our town for a larger government school in a regional city. He also wanted to leave school because he felt that we didn’t have the teachers he needed. As a talented footballer, the reason was also encouraged as a result of him following his football dream and he believed that he could get further if he went to a bigger place.
- The third student left because she wasn’t enjoying school at all, why, I’m not actually sure what the reasons were. But obviously along her schooling journey she has had a bad experience and therefore she wanted to pursue the completion of her education at a neighbouring regional town.
- The final and fourth student left because he hated school, this would have been for multiple reasons.
I know that they all had separate reasons to leave our smaller rural school, and their were obviously personal reasons too, but the overall idea that rural and remote schools couldn’t provide them with the resources and opportunities that they wanted – well to me that’s debatable – we need to think more creatively so that these young people can stay with their families, and their community for their learning, and set up supports that encourage our rural schools to connect with each much more, this providing more learning opportunities.
I couldn’t help but think that if we had connected with other schools within our community, along with schools in metropolitan/regional centres, then these four young people may still be learning in our rural community.”
The challenge the Rural Youth Ambassadors presented to all of us from various groups that are involved in education is that they would love education organisations to focus clearly on the needs and dreams of children and young people within their community, regardless of which school they go to, and to achieve this in a rural and remote context, focusing on collaborating across education settings, rather than on competition for numbers and reputation is seen as critical.
By working together we will be able to ensure that Victoria will become the Education State within rural and remote communities, and their young people will have access to the learning opportunities they so much desire and need.
For a copy of their powerpoint presentation click on the link: RYA Presentation March 2017