A team of 20 students has been unveiled as this year’s Rural Youth Ambassador (RYA) cohort — the largest group since the program’s inception.
Country Education Partnership CEO Phil Brown said the geographical diversity of this year’s group is its stand-out feature.
“We’ve got representatives from as far north as Murrayville, to Tallangatta in the east, Goroke in the west and Foster in the south,” Mr Brown said.
“It’s a genuine representation of rural and remote Victoria and I think that’s a reflection of how the Ambassador profile has grown,” he said.
The RYA program was established in 2011, aiming to provide country students a formal voice on issues affecting their education, as well as an opportunity for them build their own leadership capacity.
Last week, the 2018 cohort met for a three-day orientation forum in Melbourne where they identified key challenges around learning within schools, while also participating in a series of workshops at the State Library and Latrobe University.
“Their overall view was that there are many rewards for being educated in rural and remote communities, such as being able to build strong relationships with their teachers and take on leadership roles within their communities,” Mr Brown said.
“But the ambassadors also highlighted a number of areas they feel their education falls short, particularly in comparison to what their urban peers expect and receive.”
In summary, the Rural Youth Ambassadors identified challenges including:
- less learning opportunities provided for them
- the difficulty of attracting and retaining experienced teachers
- lower aspirations among many country students
Over the coming 12 months, the ambassadors will formulate their own proposals to help address these issues, with a particular focus on encouraging schools to work together, persuading universities to play a more active role in the promotion of country placements for graduate teachers, and providing opportunities for rural young people to realise their dreams.
For further information on the RYA program, hit the link: Rural Youth Ambassadors