Earlier this year, Nell Cane and I were chosen to represent Port Lincoln High School as part of the Rural Youth Ambassador program*. We were selected along with seventeen other Year 11 students from across the state. Thus far, we have been involved in two three-day face-to-face forums in Adelaide, along with a handful of Zoom calls.
At the end of April, we attended the Orientation Forum, the first of four face-to-face meetings. At this event, we brainstormed an extensive number of rural education issues that we face every day within our schools; we worked together as a collective group to further define and categorise these issues, resulting in a survey that we published for Year 10-12 students to complete.
During last week’s second forum (June 20-22), we raised and presented issues such as breadth of learning, teacher qualifications and student mental health to the South Australia Area School Leaders Association conference. This presentation also included data from our survey. Nell was one of five ambassadors nominated to deliver the seminar, whilst I and others helped to drive conversation and pose questions to the principals sitting at the tables.
Following the conference, we all sat down with the Mr Rick Persse, Chief Executive of the Department for Education, and Mr Garry Costello, Senior Advisor to the Minister of Education; we further discussed the issues we had raised across our two forums and the solutions that could be implemented.
We are very much looking forward to our next forum; we will work with the other ambassadors along with both the Chief Executive and the Minister for Education on helping to deliver a better, brighter future for students in rural and remote communities.
~ Mitchell Paterson (Year 11)
* The Rural Youth Ambassador (RYA) program brings together passionate rural young people, to develop their leadership skills, grow knowledge and establish a representative voice for all rural young people.