Rural people are often severely disadvantaged because education and training resources tend to be concentrated in urban centres. Rural people must have equitable access to education and training, and growing opportunities to participate. Issues of particular concern include:
- rural isolation;
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education;
- opportunities for women and girls;
- integration of people with disability;
- school retention rates;
- socio-economic disadvantage; and
- secondary and post-secondary education and training.
Funding for Education
SPERA believes equity is a crucial issue. Funding should be directed to avert the real crisis developing as rural students increasingly must forego education and training options because of the cost. SPERA believes that Governments must provide funds for equitable access, and that programs offering opportunities to study locally in rural areas must be developed.
Schools and Post-secondary Systems
SPERA supports education and training that is diverse and meets the particular needs of those in rural areas, and believes community schools must be maintained and strengthened with adequate resources. Post-secondary education and training in rural Australia is vital to reverse the drain of young people from the country to the cities. Flexible learning techniques must be developed to support the delivery of a wide variety of curriculum offerings in both school and post-secondary systems.
SPERA believes that teacher education courses should take account of the rural environment and include rural experiences. Teachers should be positively encouraged to teach in rural areas through pre-service and in-service programs.
SPERA places the development of TAFE programs in rural areas equal in importance to development in the other education sectors. Rural TAFE training must be made relevant and given a fair allocation of available education and training funding.
SPERA recognises education as a lifelong process, and the need for adequate initial and continuing education and training to be available to rural communities. It encourages the establishment and funding of adult education centres and neighbourhood houses to ensure that rural people have access to the informal education process, and articulation into formal education and training through multi-campus regional colleges which are flexible in their use of learning methods.
SPERA encourages its members and the educational community to become involved in halting the decline of rural services, including education and training, and in community development which aids the social rejuvenation of rural communities.