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The Forum > Article Comments > Education in rural Australia > Comments

Education in rural Australia : Comments

By Naomi Godden, published 27/5/2008

Rural access, equity and excellence in the Education Revolution: a ‘Big Idea’ from the 2020 Summit.

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This group obviously produced many great ideas to expand opportunities for rural kids. But I see a couple of problems.

Firstly: in some ways there is little shortage of great ideas – but they always seem to run up against traditional constraints and policy silliness.

A very current example is the NSW government’s decision to expand selective schooling opportunities to some kids in some country towns. The emphasis is on SOME. Most kids will miss out. Not only that, in the places where selective streams will be established it is a formula to further marginalize other schools and kids.
What they will do is trial, in one NSW region only, an online selective class. The timidity with which they are approaching this is quite breathtaking.

Secondly: maybe the rural group at the Summit should have given further thought to other matters impacting on access and equity. So many rural schools are being recreated into hierarchies of schools, partly based on geography but substantially based on income levels and more.

It is a divide both between and amongst both public and private schools. At the extreme we are even creating white schools and black schools, with a substantial daily commute not only across towns but from one town to another – even across state lines.

The Summit groups should have addressed fundamental structural and social issues getting in the way of their bright ideas. I don’t know about the rural group but certainly some were steered and guided to avoid these issues
Posted by bunyip, Tuesday, 27 May 2008 11:53:40 AM
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Reading the writers preamble you would think that education is not under attack and deliberately being rundown, in oder to exploit education and turn it into a little private goldmine, certainly since 1984 by Labor, Liberal and Green: Sometimes called private enterprise, creating and milking an asset, or privatisation. Perhaps the writer has not heard of or recognise the criminal process taking place and the stultifying implications for childrens development. Nor how that is at the expense of children's well being? Never mind, we will dress things up with some spin and call it "education revolution" or some such nonsense to disguise non stop cuts and how taxes have actually risen. A secondary point, but a health issue is the disgusting state of childrens toilet facilities which are a disgrace and opens children up to disease. Although the governments knew about the dangers of asbestos since 1895 that did not stop the governments giving it the thumbs up and in use, in schools right up till the 1960's.

The writer says: "Rural student placements are expensive and therefore inaccessible for many students. This strategy involves funded work experience and placements for urban and rural secondary and tertiary students to have on-the-job training in rural communities."
In the above the writer lets on more than he should and we get to the nub of things, and that is, to serve up schoolchildren as a source of cheap labor to the large cattle/sheep stations dressed up as "work experience." Precisely the thrust of the Northern Territory intervention to serve up the aboriginals as a source of cheap slave labor under "defending the sacred children."
Posted by johncee1945, Tuesday, 27 May 2008 6:16:21 PM
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Rural access to inclusive citizenship. I agree with the suggestive directions in this paper, it is refreshing. However, I feel it needs to be broader.

Education must include civic education. The opportunities we want in rural areas are often gained by means of having the inclusive knowledge we need to figure it out, so as to safely advocate on these issues, at ground levels.

I have found politics is something we see on TV, experience (unaware of the connections) in our daily lives or may find very difficult to advocate on… to participate/engage in – (reality) at ground levels... because of the "who is who" blocages... the dynamic atypical reasons found in many small rural towns.

For this reason, I want education to be more inclusive of the reality experienced in rural areas. The importance of "knowledge - share and exchange" between departments and with citizens - noting why having diverse "representations" within a community is important.

Integrative educational policies in community development are urgently required.

Here I target the role of government institutions. I find good polices are ignored by different departments because workers themselves have no knowledge of how to empower people at local level... because of the power structures... lack of knowledge, the barriers…no true long-term innovation and investment, time and support…

Lastly, I resent anyone and particularly state leaders who advocate rural people do not expect the same services as people in urban areas. That the trade-off is about life-style... (in its romantic view). That because we “choose” to live here… we are prepared to go without community services… This is a cope-out and does not address the many reasons “why” people live in the rural areas…
Posted by miacat, Wednesday, 28 May 2008 2:07:13 AM
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