Rural students from across South Australian met with key education decision makers last week to explore key areas impacting on their education.
The group of 20 students met with senior personnel from the Department of Education and the Senior Advisor to the Minister for Education. They also presented to the Annual Area Schools Conference.
The students are part of Country Education Partnership’s Rural Youth Ambassador program and have been working with peers from across rural and remote South Australia to develop solutions to challenges faced in their schools.
The South Australian cohort came together Sunday afternoon to finalise their solutions and presentation before their meetings on Monday and Tuesday.
Rural Youth Ambassadors met with senior Department of Education personnel to present solutions to key rural education challenges.
One of the key areas that was explored by the Rural Youth Ambassadors focused on the engagement of young people within their communities in education, especially schooling. They explored a range of solutions to address this challenge including increasing the curriculum choices provided within their communities by encouraging schools within rural regions working more closely together, this providing the learning that rural and remote young people desire to achieve their dreams.
A key solution they developed focused on the possibility of schools in local geographic areas working together to provide students with access to the subjects and learning opportunities they want that would keep them engaged in school and pathways.
“We also talked about how we could acknowledge and reward inspirational teachers within our rural and remote communities – the idea of an annual award was proposed,” William Sampson from Wudinna Area School said.
While the prospect of presenting to a room of principals was daunting for the Rural Youth Ambassadors, most of them said they felt inspired by the experience.
“I’m fortunate enough to have just returned to our second Rural Youth Ambassador forum this year. Those few days have had a big impact on my personal development, public speaking and leadership skills. It’s also meant a lot to me that I’ve been able to further develop my personal connections with the other people involved in this program. These experiences have allowed me to realise the potential of me and our group to make a real impact on rural education,” William said.
“This forum was just as good as the first one, if not better. We did things we had never done before and were pushed out of our comfort zones. As a result of that we made connections with a number of people across the state and achieved things we have never achieved before. Everyone was pushed out of their comfort zones at the conference, and I must say we all coped outstandingly,” Mitchel Paterson from Port Lincoln High School said.
“For me these past few days meant actually going out there, getting work done and making sure our voices are heard and listened to. It also meant going out there and stepping out of our comfort zone and speaking to people that we have never spoken to before. Really getting our ideas out there and making sure that they’re heard,” Tailah Galloway from Streaky Bay Area School said.
A great outcome of the meeting with the senior personnel from the Department of Education was the suggestion of the Chief Executive to establish a number of online workshops and forums to explore how the Department can enhance and improve the education provision within rural and remote communities.
The South Australian Rural Youth Ambassadors will come together again during Term Three. They will also have the opportunity to join with their national counterparts for a three day forum at Parliament House in Canberra later this year.
Will Sampson from Wuddina Area School speaking to the conference.