Academic journal article Australian and International Journal of Rural Education

Editorial: Aligning AIJRE Research with the Independent Review into Regional, Rural and Remote Education

Academic journal article Australian and International Journal of Rural Education

Editorial: Aligning AIJRE Research with the Independent Review into Regional, Rural and Remote Education

Article excerpt

The first issue of AIJRE for 2018 is timely and significant as it coincides with many global initiatives and interest in regional, rural and remote education (RRRE). This issue centres on showing alignment across the globe on common RRRE issues and a call for an alliance of international researchers interested in RRRE.

The collection of articles in this issue align with common global RRRE issues currently surfacing in public and academic contexts. For example, in Australia, Halsey (2018) released the Independent Review into Regional, Rural and Remote Education (IRRRRE) and the Australian Government's response to the IRRRRE (2018). The commissioned Review was 'part of the Australian Government's commitment to improve the education of country students so they can reach their full potential and participate in Australia's economy'. In Spain, a special edition of the magazine Guix 443 provided an international gaze on rural education highlighting a diverse range of contributions from around the globe. The authors found that in Burkina Faso, schools deal with terrorism, adverse weather and wild animals; significant differences were identified between Australia's policy documents and state directives; multi-age grouping and socio-economic peripheries were the focus of rural schools in Italy; Argentina's most southern school introduced remote to the discussion; changes and continuities in schools from the north-east of China revealed transition issues; camp schools in Brazil highlighted the importance of building on asset based contexts, such as strengthening agricultural knowledge. It is clear that issues of RRRE are being discussed in a range of public and commercial forums in addition to academics and refereed journals providing leverage and opportunity to the field.

With interest, comes efforts to increase accountability and transparency. Across the globe the obsession with assessment, measurement and evidence-based discourse within education is resulting in policy directives and changes relating to RRR contexts to monitor growth and outcomes. For example, in the UK, 80% of the area is classified as rural and around 20% of population lives in rural areas. The Secretary of State approved the Designation of Rural Primary Schools Order (Dec, 2017) which identifies 3807 rural schools as being located in: towns and fringe areas; villages or hamlets; and isolated dwellings. The list is used for the purpose of enacting Section 15 of Education and Inspections Act requiring local authorities to formulate proposals for closure or discontinuance. In the US, 15% of public-school students attend rural schools. However, a report by The Rural School and Community Trust (2017) asked 'Where did 'rural go'? because of the seemingly missing 2,672,000 students that were considered rural in 2013-2014 metrics but not in the 2015-2016 measure. Much of the 'de-ruralisation' resulted from suburban sprawl and amalgamation of schools. However, recoding of schools' location may have significant funding implications for individuals and schools in the US.

In late 2017 the OECD's Trends Shaping Education Spotlight 9: Country Roads, Education and Rural Life, presented snapshots on: global trends in rural population; urban/rural skills gap; the rural school; access to early childhood education; ICT and distance education; and teaching in rural areas. These areas are common to most major reports and education reform from the US, UK and more recently Australia, and are what Reid (2017) refers to as "persistent and entrenched locational disadvantaged" within rural areas highlighting that in such contexts "education is both crucially important and inexorably difficult" (p.88). The OECD recommendations called for an exploration of a 'virtuous cycle' to replace typical 'declining cycles' (OECD, 2006) evident within RRR locations.

Australia's alignment with global areas of interest relating to IRRRE was evident in the Government's 'Terms of Reference' and purpose of the 2017 IRRRE Review (Halsey, 2018). …

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