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Education for Isolated Children: Challenging Gendered and Structural Assumptions

  • Year: 2008
  • Author: Alston, Margaret; Kent, Jenny
  • Journal Name: Australian Journal of Social Issues, The
  • Journal Number: Vol. 43, No. 3
  • Country: Australia

This paper examines the provision of distance education to young people studying from their isolated properties in remote areas of Australia. While Australia's innovative approach to remote education is well established, this paper challenges the gender and structural assumptions underpinning this approach. A sustained period of rural restructuring and a long period of drought have changed the social relations of agriculture in a number of significant ways that ultimately undermine distance education as it is currently constructed. The assumption that mothers are available to provide home tutoring is no longer valid given the pressures on them to work on properties due to staff cutbacks and off properties to earn additional income. Further, the trend for farm family properties to be amalgamated into larger holdings and for these holdings to be run by farm workers also undermines the assumption that parents are willing, able and resourced to home tutor their children for long periods. This paper raises significant questions about the adequacy of current distance education provisions in remote areas.

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