Updated: Aug 17, 2020
In this country, we are privileged to have the benefits of a high quality education system that, for the most part, prepares and supports students for post-school vocational pursuits. While education may be more accessible in Australia than in other parts of the world, our system is far from perfect. Rural students, alongside children from low SES and culturally diverse backgrounds and many other groups of disadvantaged students, do not have the same access to education as their metropolitan counterparts.
There are a number of educational disadvantages faced by students in rural areas.
Firstly, rural schools offer fewer subjects for students to choose, limiting their vocational opportunities, and, more broadly, their ability to acquire knowledge about both local and global environments.
Students living in remote areas also face challenges physically accessing institutions and other helpful study resources like libraries, tutoring centres, and, due to decreased access to technology, might not be able to use online learning platforms such as Mathletics.
In addition to discussing the physical challenges of remote locations, it's important to consider the challenges of rural education in relation to both the current coronavirus pandemic as well as pre-existing social inequalities.
With as many as one in six students living in households below the poverty line, the pandemic threatens the ability of many Australian students to access education. Many local students, who were already disadvantaged due to socioeconomic factors, now face increased barriers to completing their education due to an inability to attend school and access vital support services.
The pandemic has posed a significant challenge for our own organisation, Nhuubala Yugal Education Centre, as it has forced us to temporarily close our tutoring centre in Moree. Through our hands-on after school program, students received help with their schoolwork, had a chance to play and have fun, and most importantly, were provided with mentoring and emotional support from our team of passionate staff and volunteers.
Our goal is to empower our students by building both their knowledge and sense of confidence. By doing this, we believe we are not only creating better students, but also nurturing the minds of future leaders in the local Moree community.
Above: Students and a volunteer at NYEC's Tutoring Centre based in Moree, NSW.
There's no doubt that education has a transformative impact on the self esteem and confidence of children and young people. Services like our Tutoring Centre play an important role in empowering rural communities. By giving young people more opportunities to pursue their dream career path, programs such as the ones offered by NYEC are vital to reducing the educational gap between rural and metropolitan communities.
Despite having to temporarily shut our Tutoring Centre, we are working hard to find new ways to support our students. This month we launched our exciting 'Empower' fundraiser to purchase a mobile learning centre. This vehicle would allow us to continue our tutoring services during the pandemic by bringing the program directly to the neighbourhoods of our students.
Please help us reach our goal by donating to our fundraiser. By giving as little as $10, you can support our students and make sure they access the education they deserve. While the pandemic has had catastrophic impacts on the lives of many Australians, we mustn't forget to protect and nurture the minds of our youngest citizens.
After all, our future is in their hands.
Words by Shinae Taylor