The Society for the Provision of Education in Rural Australia, or SPERA as it is more commonly known, links people with a diverse range of interests and training to promote the development of rural and remote education and training in rural and remote communities.
SPERA, as a national, rural education and training organisation provides a strong forum through a raft of activities which includes a national annual conference, the Australian and International Journal of Rural Education, the highly sought after Australian Rural Education Award and regular informative newsletters which combine to celebrate and share the positive learning programs which are embedded in many rural and remote education and training institutions.
SPERA emerged from a New South Wales in-service activity organised by Marie Dale in 1984. The activity brought together Marie Dale and Bob Meyenn, then Lecturer in Education at Riverina College of Advanced Education, and the pair went on to organise a National Conference on rural education, which was held in Armidale, New South Wales in 1985. At this Conference, SPERA was endorsed as a national organisation and Marie became its foundation president.
Concerned by the effect the “disadvantaged” label was having on rural communities, Marie and Bob saw the need to establish a national organisation which would advance the positive aspects of rural life and rural education and celebrate the unique features of rural education.
Around the time SPERA formed, Country Area Program and Disadvantaged Schools’ Program had been operating some ten years and rural communities were becoming conditioned to accept the “disadvantaged” label in order to attract funds. It concerned Marie that these communities were locking themselves into such a negative mind set.
SPERA is an organisation that celebrates the “doers” or quiet achievers in rural education and has promoted many wonderful examples of education excellence in early childhood settings, primary and secondart schools, TAFE, universities, adult and agricultural education at its national conferences.
Its leadership has been shared by community people, adult educators, academics and school administrators from New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania and more recently Western Australia.