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Are rural students getting the best deal from the education system?

Media Academy

More than half of Queensland’s state schools are located in rural and remote areas. But their students may face barriers to educational attainment, write Layla Gossage and Annaliese Koch.

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Rural students across the state are beginning to question the quality of their education and whether or not it is jeopardising their future.

Experienced educators explain that rural schools and their challenges mostly stem from the fact that, due to their locations, less funding is available in comparison to urbanised state schools.

A key substitution method to alleviate this struggle is the schooling services through 7 state schools of Distance Education. These schools work to support both geographically isolated and home-based students throughout Queensland.

Deputy Principal of Distance Education Cameron Burke stated that the school’s current challenges include the recruitment of staff and the limited housing available in rural towns.

“Sometimes it is more challenging to recruit staff willing to teach online and live in a rural town” he said.

“The department does offer some subsidised teacher housing, however that is limited, and there is often not a lot to rent. This makes it hard for the educators who need to relocate in order to complete their rotations.”

Burke also mentioned that online learning has evolved extensively and there is good  distribution of learning supplies. This allows the schools to successfully adapt to the individual circumstances of their 2,300 enrolled children.

On the other hand, a current Year 12 School Captain from Charters Towers State High School, Alyssa Collins, previously attended an urban school of 1500-2000 students. Her school now only averages 400 enrolments.

“There was a massive difference between schools including the lack of resources, consistency of teachers, subject variety, and teaches level of experience” she said.

She said she did not believe that rural schools gained the same resources as those in cities and that this lack of opportunity can make students undervalue their time at school.

“Students can feel that their education is pointless as they are unable to study subjects that they need for their prerequisites,” she said.

“This can influence career options as it severely limits the courses they are able to apply for at university. Further to this, distance education can be more challenging, because of the difficulties that can come with learning online.”

This often leads to children feeling disadvantaged when compared to the “city kids” who are evidently nourished with well-conditioned supplies and given a wide range of educational opportunity.

Schooling in a rural or remote community is unfortunately much more difficult. Limitations in materials, recourses, school access, funding and staff, all become barriers to the process of gaining an adequate education.

Charters Towers State High School acting principal Leanne Knight-Smith agrees that more awareness must be directed towards senior students and their desired future pathways.

However, she said there were unique benefits to schooling in a smaller community.

“Students get to experience stronger community bonds with their peers and other surrounding schools, whereas in cities, they don’t get to collaborate as much” she said.

Knight-Smith is also hopeful that this issue, leading into the future, has much opportunity for growth and improvement.

Despite ongoing challenges, awareness is finally being directed towards the issue of school resourcing.

Discussion within these schools has been raised surrounding future programs and opportunities that could be implemented to further benefit the students involved in their school community.

 

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