Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Australia 2013 | Alice Springs School of the Air #NTAustraliaSG

On the way to Uluru, we had a little stopover at Alice Springs and visited the well-loved School of the Air. It is not a tourist attraction, but definitely a very meaningful place to make time for.

“Literacy unlocks the door to learning throughout life, is essential to development and health, and opens the way for democratic participation and active citizenship.” - Kofi Annan

Knowing that about 793 million people in the world cannot read or write is quite ridiculous when here we are living in a society that take for granted words that surround us every second of the day. I've said it before and I'd ask again - how can anybody reach their full potential and contribute to society without being educated? How can anybody live without knowing how to read and write their own name? Education should be accessible to all, regardless of your income level or where you stay.

Geographical isolation should not be a factor in being educationally disadvantaged, so Alice Springs School of the Air {ASSOA} was set up to for children living in remote areas of Central Australia. There are actually a few Schools of the Air set up around Australia but this was the first one of its kind. It is a primary aged correspondence school that utilises various communications technologies to offer daily educational services & activities with students, home tutors and teacher. There are currently 120 enrolled students that live in their coverage area of more than 1.3 million km² {more than 10 times the size of England!}.

At the visit, we first listened to a short talk by the friendly staff about the history of ASSOA and how it had evolved through the years. As we were there during their school hours, after the talk we managed to observe a live class session taking place. It was very interesting to see how the teachers engaged the students together in a "classroom", even though they live literally thousands of kilometers apart. There were not only academic classes, but art, music and gym classes conducted too.

Lots of celebrities, and even Queen Elizabeth II, have dropped by ASSOA to show their support and left words of encouragement to the staff and students on the special school wall shown above.
The gift shop in the Visitor Centre stocks a variety of merchandise to provide financial support for enrichment programs conducted by the school. At ASSOA each student site has a satellite dish and associated computer equipment that allows the reception of data, audio and visual feeds from the studio and the transmission of audio and data back to the studio. This allows the students to see and hear their teachers in real time as well as being able to speak and be heard by other students in the class.

With all the equipment and technology required, running the ASSOA costs 3 times the cost of mainstream schooling but the Government only funds the same amount it does to any other school, so the school appreciates donation of any kind.
If you like, you can even choose to donate a book to their school library. I chose a picture book on Cyclones, Hurricanes and Typhoons and wrote one of my favourite quotes by George Bernard Shaw in the donation message. Also bought a pink wristband for Lil Pumpkin as a memento when I tell her about this place, and a spectacle wipe for myself {see my NT shopping haul video here}.

I highly recommend the ASSOA as a family must-do if you are in the area as you not only get to appreciate the rural and remote lifestyle of certain parts of Australia,  but for the kids that attend regular schools, they also appreciate how lucky they are that education is so accessible to them and that they get to meet their friends and teachers face-to-face whenever they want to.

Alice Springs School of the Air
80 Head St, Alice Springs NT 0870, Australia
Open daily, except Christmas Day through to New Years Day {inclusive} and on Good Friday.
Admission: Adults A$7.50, Child A$5.
Website: http://www.assoa.nt.edu.au/‎

* Disclosure: My Ultimate Australia Outback Adventure trip was sponsored by Tourism NT, thanks to omy.sg. No monetary compensation was received, and all opinions are my own.

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J Bott said...

What a great thing to visit! We often forget about how remote some Australian students live. So suprising that they don't get additional funds for teaching so remotely.

Unknown said...

There used to be a School of the Air based in my home town, Broken Hill. We had school excursions there, and it was fascinating to us. It has unfortunately closed down, which is a real shame. #teamIBOT

Ai Sakura said...

Eleise: yup was quite surprising to learn that too!

Sophie: it's a very interesting concept.. something pretty new to us since we don't have areas so remote at all here in SG

Emily @ Have A Laugh On Me said...

A great cause you are promoting Ai - I hope your precious loved her momento! Em xx

Grace said...

Oh, that's amazing that you've been to the School of Air! And what a great cause it is!
You're so right - no one should be deprived of education. It's not a privilege, it's a right.

EssentiallyJess said...

I had friends who went to school of the air on their roadhouse, so I was always intrigued by it as a kid. They had a special room dedicated to school and knew all these other kids from everywhere. It was very cool

One Mother Hen said...

Such an important service for remote kids. I think it's great you can go and have a tour and donate in the shop. I hope I get up that way sometime in the future for a look too :)

An Apel a Day said...

I love the illustrations on that wall!

HelpfulPapers said...

An amazing place. So inspiring. I feel like I could easily lose the track of time there