A MAJOR cultural change is needed to improve the number of south-west students completing year 12 schooling, the region’s peak representative group has declared.
With a recent Auditor-General’s report showing completion rates in the region among Victoria’s lowest, the Great South Coast Group has declared the issue a priority.
A special working group has been established to help lift education standards.
Group chairman Cr Chris O’Connor of Terang said the report showed that in some parts of the south-west less than 50 per cent of young people achieved year 12 or equivalent.
“That’s simply unacceptable,” Cr O’Connor told The Standard.
“There is sound research that shows young people who leave school before they finish year 12 are more likely to be socially and economically disadvantaged later in life.
“So we know that education is the key to lifting people’s health and well-being.”
Following the group board’s meeting in Port Fairy on Friday, Cr O’Connor said the new working party would explore a whole-of-community approach and address the issue across the life cycle, beginning at birth.
“It’s not just a problem for secondary schools, but an issue for our entire community,” he said.
“While there may be some short-term measures we can put in place, this is likely to be a long-term thing.
“It’s likely to involve a real shift in our culture and our attitudes to learning and education.”
Cr O’Connor said views would be sought from many stakeholders.
“This is a big job and we don’t expect overnight results, but the Great South Coast Group is intent on bringing together all the people who can make a difference to our young people’s educational outcomes,” Cr O’Connor said.
According to the Bureau of Statistics, in 2011 Great South Coast had 57 per cent of people aged 20-24 who had attained year 12 or equivalent while the statewide figure was 74.4 per cent and metropolitan Melbourne 77.7 per cent.
The regional Victoria figure was 61.6 per cent.
Glenelg Shire had the lowest with 51 per cent and Corangamite Shire 52.5 per cent.
Colac Otway, Moyne, Southern Grampians shires and Warrnambool City figures ranged from 56 to 60.6 per cent.