The Society for the Provision of Education for Rural Australia (SPERA) held its 28th National Conference at the University of Southern Queensland this month, sponsored by the USQ Faculty of Education.
The theme for this year’s three-day conference was “Developing Connections for Sustainable Futures- Networking the Bush” and was officially opened by the Director-General of the Department of Education, Training and Employment Julie Grantham.
President of SPERA Emilia Terry said challenges facing rural education in Australia continued to grow which is why it was important to take action.
‘Many teachers in rural and remote Australia are teaching out of their field of expertise, especially in the secondary sector,’ Ms Terry said.
‘The situation is far worse in the specialist areas of Mathematics, Science, ICT and Technology and Design and often in these specialist areas, it’s a matter of under supply across the board.’
Ms Terry said SPERA is the only national body which links people with a diverse range of interests in education and training to promote the development of regional and remote Australia.
‘We are delighted to be partnering with the University of Southern Queensland to present this conference which provides an opportunity to celebrate SPERA’s achievements over the past 28 years,’ she said.
‘It is important to use the opportunity we have here to focus on the successes, challenges, issues and outcomes in education in regional, remote and rural Australia.’
USQ Dean of Education Professor Nita Temmerman said her Faculty had a strong commitment to the development of human and social capital in their regions and was proud to see USQ host the conference.
‘Our preservice teachers are given opportunity during their degree program to engage in a diversity of professional placements, including in rural and remote locations,’ Professor Temmerman said.
‘The Faculty is proud of its affiliation with and support of the Isolated Children’s Project, which sees approximately 12-15 preservice teachers spend three weeks annually in very remote rural locations working with young people and families for whom face-to-face learning is a unique experience.’
Four of USQ’s preservice teachers were involved as volunteer delegates in the conference and two of those students also participated in the Isolated Children’s Project.
Ms Terry said the conference embraced the concepts of partnership, collaboration, technology and rural sustainability.
The conference was sponsored by the USQ Faculty of Education, the Catholic Education Office Toowoomba, ICPA Queensland and Western Australia and Wykari Wines.
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