Raising the percentage of rural youth who participate in higher education is important but we also need to value other post school pathways- parity of esteem
Schooling needs to be less regulatory and controlling in nature and more flexible, more responsive, more organic in nature
Raising and nurturing competent and confident youth starts at day 1 of their lives- probably before
These were some of the concluding comments from a very successful and thought provoking Rural Learning Summit held in August.
The Summit involved in excess of 100 people from schools, TAFE colleges, Local Learning and Employment Networks, local government, industry groups, government departments, and young people exploring the theme
“engaging and retaining rural young people in learning”.
The Hon Peter Hall, Minister for Higher Education and Skill addressed the summit outlining the state government’s commitment to improving the engagement and retention of rural young people in education. He highlighted that rural young people are less likely to complete Year 12 compared to their metropolitan peers and this was an area this government wished to address. He encouraged the summit to explore the issues impacting on this trend and identify possible actions for the future.
Michelle Adam and Heather LeRoy from The Smith Family shared their recent work exploring the key elements that support young people in making a successful transition from school to the workforce or higher education. They reflected on their work within a number of communities and identified a number of key elements which contribute to a successful transition, including the link between a young persons well being and education outcomes: having strong family and peer support networks; being proficient in literacy and numeracy; developing strong and realistic ambitions around 10-14 years; and building partnerships between education organisations, families and the wider community.
The Rural Youth Ambassadors provided a challenging and thought provoking presentation in relation to their view on the engagement and retention of young people in learning. They referred to the low expectations and aspirations that are often associated with young people in rural communities especially in education as a key area. They suggested a joint approach between parents/families, education organizations and the wider community to work alongside young people in addressing this challenge.
Paul Briggs from Rumbularra, based in the Goulburn Valley area of the state, shared his story about a whole of community approach (through the Rumbularra Football and Netball Club) in engaging young indigenous people within education and their community. Through the activities and services provided through the football/netball club there has been a significant impact on the participation and success of young people in education programs as a result of this approach. The provision of mentors; the involvement of the whole community with young people; and the building of pride amongst the young people was seen as critical elements in engaging young people within education and their community.
These presentations provided the opportunity for the summit participants to analyse, listen and explore in some depth the key messages impacting on the engagement and retention of young people in learning and identify a number of possible initiatives to improve this area especially in rural communities. Facilitated by Professor John Halsey, Sidney Myer Chair of Rural Education and Communities at Flinders University these discussions, and ideas will be compiled into a report in the near future. The report will be available through the CEP website.