FAIR GO: School drop out rates are too high
ABOUT one in five of the Clarence Valley's older teenagers may not be enrolled in full time education.
A special Australian Regional Media Newsdesk investigation reveals kids living in well-heeled Sydney suburbs are more likely to continue their education than students in our region.
The Social Health Atlas of Australia shows that at the last Census 79.1% of Grafton's 16-year-olds were studying fulltime compared to 86.5% of students in Ryde, one of Sydney's richest areas.
ARM, publisher of this and 11 other daily newspapers, wants our leaders to stop short-changing our region.
We are calling on the Federal Government to increase funding for our education, health and infrastructure systems so every aspect of our lives can be on par with metropolitan Australia.
New South Wales Secondary Principals' Council deputy president Craig Petersen CORRECT backed our call, saying the gap between regional and metropolitan areas must be closed.
"There's a whole range of reasons that contribute to these gaps," Mr Petersen said.
"What we know is the socio-economic status of these communities is significantly lower than in metropolitan areas.
"When you're in regional, rural and remote schools there is a greater need to provide funding for Aboriginal students, for students with disabilities and for students who are disadvantaged simply because of where they live.
"There's also a need to fund professional learning for teachers who are less experienced and there's also a need to provide some support for extra resources and facilities to compensate for the educational experiences that regional and remote students don't get."
A director of the Australian Secondary Principals' Association, Andrew Pierpoint, CORRECT said the solution could be as simple as giving every public school in our region one extra teacher and two support staff.
"It doesn't have to be much money - it just has to be targeted," Mr Pierpoint said.
"It's about retaining kids in school, it's about giving them correct pathways post-school and it's about attracting and keeping good teachers."