It takes a village, and ECEC are encouraged to play their part in helping children succeed

by Freya Lucas

March 15

An overwhelming majority of Australians – seven in every ten surveyed – believe the responsibility to keep young people in education throughout their schooling years rests on the shoulders of everyone, not just educators and parents, research released this week by Essential Media has shown.

 

The research, which will be of interest to those working with school-aged children in outside of school hours care, and more broadly to the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector, found that more needs to be done to highlight practical ways that concerned citizens can help young people in their community.

 

Of those surveyed, 35 per cent said they had no relationship with school-aged students at all, with researchers calling for action to halt the 86,000 teenagers who leave the schooling system each year without completing Year 12 – a statistic that can lead to significantly worse social, health and economic outcomes.

 

The findings come as the Community Council for Australia launches the ‘It Takes a Village: Education is everyone’s business’ campaign – a community-led campaign aimed at mobilising Australians to take a greater role in the education and future success of our young people.

 

Community Council for Australia CEO David Crosbie said that Australia is “failing our children, not due to a lack of will, but a lack of understanding about what can be done to support them to stay engaged with education”.

 

“There’s a clear desire to play a role in helping our next generation achieve their dreams, but it seems we just don’t know what practical steps we can actually take to do that. Helping children to get a good education isn’t the sole responsibility of teachers, parents and governments. This campaign is the community sector’s way of taking ownership of the issue, and showing that we all have a role to play.”

 

Key findings from the research include:

  • 85 per cent of respondents believe that having a range of supportive adults in their lives can help young people stay engaged and interested in school;

 

  • 76 per cent of people believe that being involved in social and community activities outside school can help a young person stay engaged with their education; and,

 

  • 58 per cent of people say they would volunteer to help a young person through mentoring or helping out at a school if given the opportunity.

 

The It Takes a Village campaign has support from a variety of charities and organisations associated with children’s wellbeing, such as World Vision Australia, Save the Children, The Smith Family, and the Origin Foundation.

 

Tim Costello, Chief Advocate of World Vision Australia, said all Australians want children to do well at school, and be able to “dream big” about their future.

 

Parents and teachers clearly play a vital role in our kids’ education, but so do many other people in our lives,” Mr Costello said. “You might be a sports coach, a local business owner, an uncle or even a neighbour – if you’ve got a young person in your village, you have a role to play in helping them get a good education and achieve their dreams.”

 

Speaking on behalf of The Smith Family, CEO Lisa O’Brien said “We all have the power to motivate and inspire young people. This is particularly important for students who are at risk of leaving school early. We often hear directly from the young people we support how much of a difference it makes when someone outside their own family takes an interest in their educational journey and future success.”

 

Paul Ronalds, CEO from Save the Children, said the It Takes a Village initiative is “a great opportunity to present a range of actions every single Australian can do to help keep kids engaged in school – whether it’s as simple as starting a conversation about career dreams with a young person at your local football club or taking part in a formal mentoring program”.

 

“We’ve got to start asking ourselves what the Australia we want looks like. We know having an educated population and low unemployment rates is good for us all – now is the time to start ensuring we’re all pulling our weight to make sure that happens” said Sean Barrett, Head of the Origin Foundation.  

 

For more information about the It Takes a Village campaign, or to learn more about how to bridge the gap between goodwill and practical progress, visit the website, or review this piece from Mr Crosbie.  

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