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Educators’ plea to bring teachers to the regions

Education experts have called a summit to address a critical shortage of teachers across the state that is threatening the next generation of regional Queenslanders.

Attracting and retaining teachers is the focus of a University of Southern Queensland (USQ) Education Summit in Toowoomba today (November 29), with input from education, health, childcare and other representatives.

In response to the worsening education situation, Professor Lindy-Anne Abawi said a greater emphasis was needed on selecting and preparing pre-service teachers for life in the bush.

Professor Abawi, who co-leads the USQ School of Education, said the first step towards success was working together.

“We must all be on the same page and ensure a regional, rural and remote focus is front and centre when discussing education in this country,” Professor Abawi said.

Western Sydney University’s Professor Michele Simons will give the keynote address, followed by workshops on transition and retention, community engagement, employability traits, and developing wellbeing.

Professor Abawi said while the problem was complex, there were key outcomes to strive for.

“New teachers must be clearly taught the challenges and opportunities of regional service, non-metro students must be supported as they move into higher education, and regional communities themselves must innovate their approach to local schooling,” she said.

“What is clear is that all students have a right to a high-quality education and equity of opportunity to learn and succeed.”

“We achieve that by making sure the education system is filled with high quality teachers who are capable of thriving in diverse contexts.”

Professor Abawi said it was important to reach outside of the education industry, as attracting and retaining teachers was a community-wide concern.

“Education and training plays a critical role in building the social fabric of communities, but also in developing social capital for economic prosperity,” she said.

“USQ’s School of Education wants to develop rich partnerships to more effectively prepare pre-service teachers for diverse placements, and plan better ways to work with communities to establish sustainable rural education pathways.”

Four people in front of screen
USQ's Wayne Fossey (Elder in Residence), Professor Abawi, Simone Finch (School of Education) and Professor Jill Lawrence (School of Humanities & Communication).