Rural families are yet again left feeling cheated by the state government after education funding cuts forced the closure of the State’s School of the Air program.
Several regional educational programs have been closed triggering unrest in isolated areas.
Protests have erupted in Karratha, attracting a hostile crowd of 100 teachers, parents and students, protesting the closure of Schools of the Air in 2019.
WA Young Nationals Vice President, Siobhan Blake, said the centralisation will problematic to isolated families… losing their sense of community and the camaraderie felt by students.
“Living in an isolated area doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be getting any lesser of an education than our city counterparts.”
If young families aren’t getting the support they need within education, we’re not going to get families into pastoral areas,” she explained.
The closure will see the removal of five independent schools in rural WA and the start of an online learning service in Leederville.
Kimberely Labor MP, Josie Farrah, was unaware of these cuts until the day of the announcement.
She said it would have been nice for the Education Minister to talk to Labor’s regional MPs’ about what was happening.
Miss Blake said this definitely shows a lack of confidence in the Labor Ministry from their own party.
“Why would you make decisions for regional WA when you haven’t consulted the MPs’ when it’s really going to be affecting their seats,” she said.
Alison Xamon, Greens spokesperson for education, said the cuts are shocking.
“What we’ve seen is an absolute outrage coming from the regional areas in particular, but also interestingly from areas of the metropolitan community saying this can’t go ahead. And so what we do know is that people are increasingly calling for the education minister to back down and to reverse this decision,” she said.
Ms Xamon commented that the Labor party prides itself on being the party for public education, so these cuts were outrageous.
The reconsideration of the decision to relocate the International School of WA to Doubleview is one of the Minsiter’s unecessary costs.
“It’s 21.5 million dollars that no body wants… there’s your money for School of the Air… why don’t we do that?” Ms Xamon said.
Education Minister, Sue Ellery, said budget repairs will continue and stressed that education services for remote students will remain unchanged.
“I’m confident that they will decide on a model that incorporates all of the values that those families that use SOTA really hold dear to them, by eliminating the duplication we can still save money,” she said.
Ms Ellery also explained that the relocation of the International School of Australia is a contractual obligation from the previous government and changes there will not be considered as a measure for budget repair.
In January, 120 families who rely on SOTA will meet with Ms Ellery to discuss the changes and express their concerns.
Picture Courtesy: Vince Catania MLA