New report blasts rural education disadvantage

ANOTHER report has again confirmed the disadvantage faced by students in the south-west and regional Victoria. 

A report by the Victorian Auditor General has found the state government is not providing quality education to rural students and does not understand the disadvantages faced by kids in the country.

The report released yesterday says the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD) “has limited understanding of the effectiveness of its activities in supporting and engaging rural students and their families”. 

“DEECD has not provided access to high-quality education for all students. The gap in performance between rural and metropolitan students in Victoria has persisted and shows no sign of narrowing,” the report said. 

But the findings weren’t a revelation to the head of the region’s learning and employment network. 

“It’s not surprising at all, it’s what we’ve been saying for years,” South West Local Learning and Employment Network (LLEN) chief executive Toni Jenkins said. “We’ve got lower aspirations because the access to education provision is not equal.” 

Ms Jenkins said “metro-centric” policy was failing young people in the country, who face enormous costs to relocate to cities for tertiary study.

“Your family either needs to have $20,000 in cash or you support yourself and live in squalor,” she said.

One in three rural school leavers defer a university placement, compared to one in 10 for metropolitan school leavers. 

Meanwhile, SWLLEN and other organisations are still carrying out work to solve the region’s poor year 12 attainment rate — another finding in the report auditor general report.

“We’ve got problems from the ages of zero to 19 and we need to have a systematic approach in addressing those barriers,” Ms Jenkins said.


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