‘It takes a village’ to help kids succeed in education
12 March 2019 at 8:00 am
Charities are calling on Australians to play a greater role in the education of young people, warning of a $1 million cost to the community for each student not completing high school.
Community Council for Australia (CCA) launched their “It Takes a Village” campaign on Tuesday, on the back of new Essential Media research that found seven in 10 Australians believed everyone had a responsibility to help keep young people in school – not just teachers and parents.
But while 85 per cent of Australians agreed supportive adults could help young people stay engaged in school, more than a third of people said they had no contact with school-aged kids at all.
CCA CEO David Crosbie said around 86,000 teenagers left school without completing Year 12, putting them at risk of significantly worse social, health and economic outcomes.
“We’re failing our kids at the moment – not due to a lack of will, but a lack of understanding of what we can do,” Crosbie said.
“While there are a range of reasons [students don’t finish high school], the reality is there’s a lot of lost potential in that mix. There’s a wealth of evidence that shows that keeping young people in education is good for everyone.”
Crosbie pointed to a 2017 Mitchell Institute report that looked at young Australians not fully engaged in employment, education or training by the age of 24.
It found that to the taxpayer, each early school leaver cost $335,000. The social cost for each early leaver was estimated at $616,000, due to factors like crime and lost tax revenue.
For communities, this means each disengaged young person costs about $1 million over their lifetime, through lost productivity and increased health, housing and welfare support.
Crosbie told Pro Bono News everyone could make a difference to the lives of young people around them just by engaging more positively with students.
“That’s something we can all do. Charities can do this, adults can do this, even friends can do this to ensure education outcomes improve in this country,” he said.
Charities including Origin Foundation, Volunteering Australia and Save the Children are already part of the campaign, and Crosbie is encouraging every Australian charity to get on board.
“We need charities to not only support the campaign but also to look at their own practices working with young people, to make sure they’re engaging with them positively about their education,” he said.
“Many charities do that automatically – I mean that’s one of the strengths of our sector – and every charity has a responsibility to encourage people to be all they can be.”
Tim Costello AO, the chief advocate of World Vision Australia, said this was not just a campaign targeting the social sector.
“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,” Costello said.
Essential research found that 58 per cent of Australians would volunteer to help a young person through mentoring or help out at a school if given the opportunity.
Almost 70 per cent of people also said they believed they could be a role model to young people who were not their children to encourage them to stay in school.
Save the Children CEO Paul Ronalds said there were a range of actions every Australian could do to help keep kids engaged.
“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,” Ronalds said.
“Students do better when they’re happy, have a sense of belonging and have a range of positive influences in their lives outside of school. There’s something each one of us can do to make that happen.”