The philanthropic George Alexander Foundation has announced a $60 000 commitment to Charles Sturt University (CSU), providing scholarships for students from the CSU Faculty of Education so they can undertake professional placements in rural and remote schools throughout Australia.
Chief Executive Officer of the Foundation, Mrs Janet Hirst, believes the scholarships are an investment in the future growth of students and rural communities.
“Charles Sturt University has an impressive history of supporting rural and remote teaching placements for students, so the teachers coming out of the University are some of the best in Australia,” Ms Hirst said.
“The George Alexander Foundation, like CSU, is committed to excellence in education and keen to support further teaching placements. I hope that students that may not otherwise have had an opportunity to undertake a placement will benefit from the financial support from the Foundation,” she added.
Professor Toni Downes, Dean of the Faculty of Education, believes that rural and remote communities in Australia face increasing difficulties in attracting teaching professionals to fill key roles in schools.
“Teachers play a critical role, not just in educating the young, but in sustaining rural and remote communities,” Professor Downes said.
“Teacher education plays an important role in providing quality teachers for rural and remote schools. CSU is firmly committed to supporting rural and remote Australia by promoting professional preparation in these communities.
“It can be argued that teacher graduates are more willing to take up rural or remote appointments, and are more successful in these appointments, if they have completed a professional placement in such a community during their studies. That is why CSU is focussed on preparing graduates for these appointments through courses and professional experience scholarships,” she added.
CSU education students are required to complete professional placements during each year of their studies, placing extra costs on students and their families. CSU research shows that students spent more than $2 800 each to undertake a five week practicum in a rural or remote school. The George Alexander Foundation will provide $20 000 per year over three years for scholarships to help students with these costs.