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First hand experiences of rural and remote school education

Commission Commission – General

28 March 2000

First
hand experiences of rural and remote school education

The Human Rights
Commission today releases a summary of evidence from its National Inquiry
into Rural and Remote School Education. Emerging Themes presents
the major issues and concerns arising in the inquiry in the words of some
of those who raised them.

The inquiry held
public hearings and community consultations with parents, teachers and
students in each state and territory to examine how well rural and remote
school education meets the rights of children under the Convention
on the Rights of the Child
. The Convention declares the right of every
child to education without discrimination.

It was conducted
over the past twelve months by Human Rights Commissioner Chris Sidoti
and Co-Commissioners Associate Professor Dr Brian Devlin (NT), Ms Barbara
Flick (NSW), Dr Alby Jones (SA), Lady Pearl Logan (Qld), Sister Patricia
Rhatigan (WA) and Mr Tim Roberts (Vic).

Mr Sidoti says that
many children who live outside major population centres in Australia continue
to have a second rate education. Others have little or no access to secondary
schooling at all.

"Education must
be available to all without discrimination, in law and in fact, physically
accessible and economically accessible," Mr Sidoti said. "We
have heard that a significant number of Aboriginal children, notably those
living in small homeland communities in the Northern Territory and Queensland,
are unable to access primary or secondary schooling of any kind."

"We have also
heard evidence about striking differences in the average outcomes for
country students when compared with students educated in cities and regional
centres. These include literacy, numeracy, Year 12 retention, participation
in tertiary education and unemployment rates."

"The substantial
disadvantage described by country students, their parents and their teachers
during this inquiry amounts to discrimination which must be overcome.
Geography, remoteness, distance, language, culture and disability cannot
be used as excuses when education is denied."

Dr Brian Devlin said
that the most disadvantaged schools need to be identified through sophisticated
national measurements so that they can be adequately resourced. Lady Pearl
Logan would like to see the health needs of children in the 0-5 age group
and throughout the school years addressed by mobile multidisciplinary
health teams.

The Commission will
release findings and recommendations from the inquiry in June.

For interview
requests please call: Jackie Randles on 02 9284 9880 or 0419 258 597 or
Tim Haydon on 02 9284 9618 or 0411 763 064

© Human Rights
and Equal Opportunity Commission. Last updated 2 December 2001.

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