Thirteen rural young people from across Victoria had the opportunity to present the outcomes of their discussions to both Minister for Higher Education and Skills, Peter Hall and Minister for Education Martin Dixon recently.
These young people were part of the inaugural Rural Youth Ambassador program established by the Country Education Project during 2011.
The inaugural program was developed in partnership with the Victorian SRC the rural DEECD regions and country CEO diocese.
Over the past ten months the rural ambassadors have participated in face to face workshops; online meetings; and web based forums exploring the challenges, possible ideas and future strategies that could be supported to support rural young people staying in, and engaging with, education and training into the future. They developed a strong belief that education within Victoria needs to be based on:
…an engaging education system that works harmoniously together to provide quality teaching and learning, strong educational leadership, ongoing opportunities for rural students to achieve their best, and is more inclusive of the views and opinions of students
Through their discussions the rural ambassadors identified five key areas they believe are essential in supporting the engagement and retention of young people in learning into the future. They include:
- Access to high quality teachers
- The importance of effective student teacher relationships in developing and providing learning
- Expectations and aspirations of rural young people, their families, their schools and the wider community
- Access to greater learning opportunities to cater for their needs and aspirations
- Access to mentors and role models to support rural young people.
The report, which they presented to the two Ministers, identifies a number of recommendations that they believe to be important in ensuring that rural young people are supported and engaged in learning into the future.
The key recommendation from their discussions outlined the need for a web based resource that could provide extensive information on the learning opportunities, programs, and pathways open to young people. Many rural young people indicate that they don’t always get the “full picture” of what is available to them in the higher years of schooling and through a web based strategy this could be achieved. The idea of an online career support and information service was also proposed thus providing high quality support and advice 24/7.
Another key recommendation proposed by the rural ambassadors included the need to support rural schools in working more extensively in clusters so that a broader range of programs and services can be made available for them. With the growth of communication technology, the rural ambassadors believe that the use of youth friendly technologies across rural schools should be able to provide greater access to high quality learning by encouraging rural schools to work together and share expertise, staff and resources. While they acknowledge such cluster initiatives are available in some parts of Victoria, there needs to be more of these clusters developed across the state to ensure all rural young people have access – such clusters could also develop links with high quality learning occurring in other states and countries.
Other recommendations that the rural ambassadors developed and presented to the Ministers covered:
- The need to ensure that all teachers have expertise in the use of communication technology in providing learning
- The provision of ongoing professional development for all teachers to ensure they are skilled to engage young people in their learning
- The development of support resources that highlight the potential of students and teachers working together in the development and provision of learning.
- The development of a “culture of expectation” amongst rural education communities in supporting young people attain high quality learning outcomes
- Supporting mentoring initiatives that are more relevant to rural young people.
At the conclusion of their presentation, the two Ministers thanked the rural ambassadors for their work and agreed to consider the challenges and ideas identified through the report within the governments approaches and policies.
The Ministers then presented each of the rural ambassadors with a certificate recognizing and acknowledging their involvement in the Rural Youth Ambassadors program.
Check out the Rural Youth Ambassadors presentation to the Ministers by clicking on:. Rural Youth Ambassadors Presentation 2012
Also download the report they presented: Rural Youth Ambassadors report 2012