I have always been a firm believer that having an excellent public education means excellent outcomes across the board, not just for a handful or a modest majority of high performers.
Excellence means equality of outcomes for all students, and that means more targeted resources for students who are marginalised or at risk of disengaging from education.
A little funding at this early stage means a lot less angst in the long-term with poor educational attainment by young parents putting up barriers to employment and often reducing overall adult income.
Understandably, this situation can also have a further impact on the quality of life of their children.
Research indicates that a school-based model of care and education support remains the best way of helping students finish their schooling.[*]
Case in point the Canberra College Cares (CCCares), run out of Canberra College since 2005 in partnership with ACT Education, Health, Community Services Directorates.
CCCares is a school-based support program for pregnant and parenting students that provides the early childhood and social support needed to help them them complete their schooling.
With regular post and ante-natal checkups and paediatric services provided by ACT Health it also makes sure mum and bub are keeping on track in terms of their health.
A number of students who’ve gone through the program have continued on to higher education at the University of Canberra or the Canberra Institute of Technology. Others have returned to mentor the next generation of young mums and dads.
As Canberra with its youthful population grows, so does the occurrence of teenage births, and in Canberra there are around 300 births to teenagers every year.
At the same time, the recognised success of the CCCares program has also driven enrolments going from less than a dozen enrolments in 2005 to over 148 enrolments this year, with 168 students expected to attend in 2013.
The time is right to expand the program outside of it original home at Stirling. That’s why I am proud to have announced with the Chief Minister today that if re-elected in 2012 ACT Labor will invst an extra $14.5 million to make sure Canberra’s pregnant or parenting students have the same educational opportunities as other young people. We will fund a new purpose built CCCares facility at Canberra College at the Phillip campus to house an expanded educational and support facilities for students and their children (find out more here).
Just like other students, young parents have ambitions to succeed and strive in society, and provide for their family. Accordingly, the integration of the CCCares program into the Phillip campus of Canberra College will provide more academic and vocational course options for students.
Having a bigger, purpose-built centre at Phillip also gives students to the opportunity to work together with their friends and peers – a chance to enjoy their time at school as young people.
Further, the construction of new child care areas, including external child play areas, will also mean that more parenting students can have some time out and study at without having to provide round the clock care.
While dedicated health clinic facilities, including counselling rooms, will look after the health of students and their children.
The benefits of the CCCares expansion are clear.
This is real Labor reform that ensures that the increasing numbers of pregnant and parenting Canberra students continue to have every opportunity to gain a meaningful education, and with it every chance in life to support their young family after leaving school.
Chris Bourke MLA, Minister for Education & Training