Truancy – a blight on education

TRUANCY has for all children, regardless of race colour and creed, the most important aspect of education is their attendance at school. Far too many children missed time from school and that loss is their undoing.

When out and about in the northern suburbs of Darwin on any school day it is a common site to see many, many children who should be in school taking a ‘day off’.

This constant absenteeism from school by many children is having a deleterious impact upon their education. Sadly, their parents do not care.

Schools employ truancy officers in urban areas to chase up children who are absent but they have only limited success in this mission.

The employment of truancy officers in remote schools, a Nigel Scullion initiative, prove to be singularly unsuccessful. Many many millions of dollars was spent on this initiative for extremely limited success.

Without doubt, chronic absenteeism in bush schools will continue to mitigate against meaningful educational outcomes for indigenous students. Many indigenous students in rolled in urban schools also miss huge slabs of time. That is despite the efforts of truancy officers, School Based police and liaison officers. I am personally aware of this from the viewpoint of observation.

Non-attendance leads to minimalist learning.

The Wilson Review into indigenous and in the Northern Territory in 2014 identified a lack of school attendance as being a key issue in children not achieving the basic stations of education. astoundingly, the Wilson Report intimated that attending school three days a week (60%) would be a reasonable outcome. Wilson was probably working from a position where school attendance was far less and that 60% would be a step in the right direction. However, it is nowhere near enough. School attendance needs to be full time.

Sadly, non-attendance at school is an issue that anecdotally at least seems to be embracing a greater and greater percentage of our educational institutions. It’s impacting upon students at all levels and young people of all persuasions.

While there can be merit in the carrot and stick approach, The stick at times seems to be a very limp reed. Until the attitude toward attendance changes and takes on the new realism we are in the Northern Territory can look forward to a continuation of mediocrity in educational outcomes.

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