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Critically analyse the extent to which educational Organisations within the community, such as school and Tafes, assist in satisfying the needs of youth
There are many groups within the community, youth being one of them. Youth is defined as individuals aged between 10-24 encompassing years of adolescent growth (1). According to the ABS, youth account for almost 20% of Australia’s population. (10) Like all groups in society, young people have specific needs. The Australian Education system is designed to prepare young people for the future in terms of employment and having an adequate standard of living. Broader aspects of the system ensure that other needs of students are met, including their safety and security, giving them a sense of identity, and guaranteeing that their health is protected. The Department of Education recognises the importance of education and training and how it helps shape the future of young people, so each of the states in Australia have policies, which ensure these needs are met. (1, 10)
Government policies and legislation include laws passed in parliament and polices that regulate, protect and promote equity in the society. The NSW Department of Education and Communities expresses that education plays a key role in enhancing a young person’s chance of having a better quality of life. Education is valuable in terms of increasing employment opportunities, hence, enhancing an individual’s standard of living. The Department of Education has put obligations for young people to complete school and successfully transition to further education, training or work, which ultimately will lead to the satisfaction of their needs.
The Education Act 2013 has placed a National Youth Participation requirement for all young people to participate in schooling until they have completed year 10 and then in full time at least 25 hours a week of education, training or employment, or a combination of all three, until the individual has reached the age of 17. Research has shown that young people who leave education early are more likely to be unemployed, unhappy and unwell (2). Young people who complete school and get their year 12 certificate are more likely to complete further study or training and get a job. Generally, the higher the education, the higher the individuals wage, so young people who complete school or training have significantly higher wages and are usually better prepared to tackle future challenges. If an individual attends tertiary education, their economic wellbeing will mostly be satisfied as they will be employed with positions that require a degree and they will be eligible for that job due to their education and may be earning more. Being employed reduces the risk of financial crisis which can lead to crime, or alcohol and drug abuse as a coping methodology. Homelessness and criminal activity is common among the youths population due to financial instability.
Young people attending school or training are usually given the education of the services and resources available to them. Knowing what they are able to access, the individuals are most likely use these services. Whereas youth who do not attend school, work or training may not know services which could help them, exist. Like all people, young people need to access services to ensure they have their needs met and their overall wellbeing is supported.
Under the Education Act 2013, all students are given the opportunity to perform to the best of their ability. Some students may need extra support to meet the standards, and the legislation has characteristics which ensure equity is maintained for all students. However, students are different in terms of what they need to reach any particular level of achievement. Some students will achieve at much lower levels at a given level than others because they come from a disadvantaged social environment or because they have special educational needs. The governments supports these students with extra help, this may be in many forms for example an adolescent with learning difficulties may have a School Learning Support Officer(SLSO) with them that supports their learning during class, as the teacher explaining something once may not be enough for them to understand. (5)
Under the Resources Allocation Model (RAM) methodology, schools receive funding for students with different needs. One of the several categories that is covered by RAM, is funding for refugee students. Many refugee students need support in learning English as an additional language to access the curriculum. Schools provide them with support in the form of ESL and they are given the opportunity to enhance their language as well as continue with the curriculum. Refugee students may also need to have emotional, welfare and other educational support needs, as a result of their refugee experience prior to starting school in Australia. Another need of these students that needs to bet met is their safety and security, the students may have fled from their home countries in disturbing situations. A safe, welcoming school or Tafe environment will increase their sense of safety and security. NSW Government funding supports refugee students who have been enrolled in an Australian school for less than three years. Funds may be used to provide mentoring to support refugee students in their transition to work or further education, bilingual learning support, access to counselors etc. (3)
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, young Indigenous people constitute 3.6% of the Australian population. The Aboriginal Education policy 2004 is set in place by the NSW Department of Education to improve the educational outcomes and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students so that they excel and achieve in every aspect of their education. These commitments support the inherent right of Aboriginal students to fair, equitable, culturally inclusive educational opportunities so that all students obtain a high quality education as a platform for enriching their life chances and achieving their full potential. The policy has enhanced the wellbeing of Indigenous students as they are obliged to attend school as per the Education Act 2003, they not only learn the curriculum but also skills that may help them in the future. The policy ensures that equity is maintained for all students, they all get equal access to education regardless of their culture or race. Payments available through Centrelink include Abstudy, a program of Indigenous students, that helps alleviate socioeconomic and educational inequity by providing the student with economic support while they are completing studies. (7, 10)
The dropout rates of Indigenous students is very high. Although indigenous people have equal right to education, many do not fulfil their responsibility of turning up to school and taking ownership of their learning. Due to the discontinuation of their education many of them are unemployed and living in inadequate standards, this has an negative impact of their economic wellbeing and may also have an effect on their health as they may be unable to provide nutritious food for themselves, because the either don’t know what’s needed by the body in terms of nutrition or they may not be able to afford the items. Youth Allowance helps in supporting the economic wellbeing of young people, as it provides them with a certain amount of money (depending of their financial status) to assist in meeting primary needs such as food, toiletries etc. (8)
Due to the high dropout rates, young people are not getting the education needed to get employment, leaving them unemployed or earning low wages. This leads to low socioeconomic status which may result in poor health or get them to be involved in criminal activities. Oasis is an organisations which supports young people experiencing homelessness. The adolescents who are homeless are mostly not attending school, which negatively impacts their wellbeing as they will have low chances of being employed, leading to a continuation of the poverty cycle. Homeless young people face many barriers in finding and maintaining jobs. Very few manage to get employed or are able to stay connected to education or training in some form. Usually, young people become homeless because of the difficulty in maintaining a home while on limited income from insecure and poorly paid work. Many homeless young people remain unemployed for long periods, resulting in them experiencing difficulty in moving out of homelessness.
Another need which educational organisations within the community satisfy is the need for safety and security within the school environment. All schools are required to have an up-to-date Emergency Plan to ensure the safety of staff and students. This includes response procedures for emergency situations and threat incidents. Studies have shown that “Security threats to schools, both real and hoaxes, have become more common over recent years”. For instance, in 2016, eight different Sydney schools were locked-down due to receiving violent threats. Schools needs to be prepared to respond to emergency or threat incidents which can prevent incidents from occurring. Another example of how the need for safety and security within the school environment is satisfied is through the National Safe Schools Framework. This framework provides Australian schools with a vision to assist school communities to develop positive and practical student safety (5). The Australian Government supports this framework to ensure that school communities are safe and supportive place for students to be. The guiding principles express the importance of the safety and wellbeing of students in the school environment including the “rights of all members of the school community to feel safe and be safe at school, acknowledge that being safe and supported at school is essential for student wellbeing and effective learning, accept responsibility for developing and sustaining safe and supportive learning and teaching communities that also fulfill the school’s child protection responsibilities” (5). This allows the students to feel a part of the school community where they can develop a sense of security, and skills to keep themselves and others safe. The practice of Emergency plans also educate the students on how to maintain safety not just in school but even places such as work.
The Student Welfare Policy followed by all educational institutions to develop and implement student welfare actions and initiatives. NSW education system provides quality education for all students, taking account of their age, background, ability and interests. Educational institutions help students to become self-directed learners who can create a positive future for themselves. Student Welfare policy creates a safe, caring school environment in which students are nurtured as they learn, it also incorporates social skills and preventive health programs for students. Schools satisfy the need of health by addressing and teaching current issues in PDHPE, where they learn information about subjects such as drug and alcohol use, unsafe sexual practices, mental health issues etc. When students are exposed to these programs they gain knowledge of the issues related with certain actions, for example the impact of drugs and alcohol on health, or the consequences of unsafe sexual practices. When young people are given the knowledge, they will most likely use that knowledge to make future decisions, i.e. they may not take up drugs or binge drink if they learnt about its effects on health.
The Australian education system addresses youth’s specific needs in relation to employment. One way that this is satisfied is through the work experience program where students in Year 10 undertake a week’s work in the community in order to understand what is necessary for the workforce. Work Experience program helps students gain an idea of the expectations and type of work required in a given field. For example, a student wanting to pursue a career in nursing, may go on work placement to a hospital where they work with nurses, this will enhance their understanding of what is required in the field and whether or not this specific field is for them. Most Educational Institutions have a Careers Advisor, whose role is to assist the students in choosing subjects, career pathways etc. Careers Advisor generally support students in providing information about services and resources available to the young people which will assist in meeting the need of education and employment.
The prospects of students are increased the longer they remain in the education system. It is a responsibility of all Australian education bodies to ensure that students remain at school for as long as possible and that the schools they attend provide a standard of education and care that will satisfy their needs and allow students to reach their potential and make a positive contribution to their future and society.
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