BRIDGING THE EDUCATION DIVIDE: BUILDING A CULTURE OF LEARNING ACROSS THE LIFECYCLE IN REGIONAL AUSTRALIA
March 30, 2017
“Whether you’re 8 or 88, if you’re in a regional area we want you to be engaged in learning,” is the key message from Regional Australia Institute CEO Jack Archer in light of the government’s announcement of an Independent Review into Regional, Rural and Remote Education.
Australia is on track to have the most segregated education system in the OECD: where a person lives is now second only to socioeconomic status as a determinant for success.
In order to bridge the education divide, Archer believes that Australia will need to radically lift access to learning opportunities in regions, supporting educators and other leaders to solve key local challenges to “build a culture of learning led from within our towns and communities. If we want to shift things we need a leap frog strategy founded in national ambition.
“We won’t win this battle with one-time national reforms on systemic issues, the answer is to go all in. The outcome we want most is that in regions, every person is engaged in education in some way.”
Building a life-long culture of learning in regional Australia is critical to not only bridging the educational divide but to the economic prosperity of regional Australia. Not only will investing in learning across the lifecycle build a more skilled and agile workforce, it is imperative to keeping up with technological change.
“Technology change and job mobility means the concept of one-time education completed early in life is fast becoming obsolete.
“Australia cannot afford a two-speed education system which compounds existing health, opportunity and income gaps in regional areas.”
The Regional Australia Institute’s [In]Sight-Human Capital Index, launched with Bendigo and Adelaide Bank on Tuesday, 28 March, looks at educational development across ages and stages on a region by region basis.
Key data from the Index shows that as it stands:
- Based on NAPLAN results, regional areas perform significantly lower than their metropolitan neighbours in both primary and secondary numeracy and literacy;
- The proportion of young regional Australians (aged 15-24) not engaged in either education or employment is 44% higher than metropolitan areas; and
- This divide carries through to post-secondary education too, with 9% fewer Australians in regional areas university qualified.
But it is not all bad news. Some regions preformed well in specific educational segments like primary numeracy and literacy and ‘learning or earning’. However while these regions performed highly against select indicators, against other measures they did not do so well.
“The diversity of regional strengths and weaknesses means that while our standard schools funding debate, VET or university reform options can contribute, on their own each will fail to solve the problem of the regional divide.”
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