The University of Adelaide has welcomed a proposal to expand the Children’s University program nationally, offering young disadvantaged people greater opportunities to connect with and be inspired by education.
The aim of Children’s University Australasia is to promote a love of lifelong learning through community engagement, with a particular focus on children from disadvantaged backgrounds, such as those in rural and remote locations, Indigenous communities, and lower socio-economic metropolitan areas.
Based on a model from the UK, Children’s University was first established in Australia at the University of Adelaide in 2013. Since then, more than 5700 children aged 5–16 years have graduated from Children’s University in South Australia alone, with the program also adopted by other Australian states and territories, and in New Zealand. In total, more than 8200 children have graduated from the program nationally.
Federal Labor has committed $5 million to support an expansion of the program, to create a national Children’s University network with partners in every state and territory. The announcement has been made by ALP Senator Jenny McAllister, Shadow Assistant Minister for Families and Communities.
“We welcome this commitment by the federal Labor party to provide funding that will support the expansion of Children’s University Australasia in each state and territory in the nation,” said the Chancellor of the University of Adelaide, Rear Admiral the Hon. Kevin Scarce, AC CSC RAN (Rtd), who is also the Chancellor of Children’s University Australasia.
“Every child in Australia, no matter what their background, should have the same opportunity to prosper. Education is the key to prosperity, offering young people, irrespective of their circumstances, a pathway to happier, healthier, more productive lives, and giving them the chance to realise their full potential,” Mr Scarce said.
Ms Kiri Hagenus, Managing Director of Children’s University Australasia, said: “Since establishing Children’s University at the University of Adelaide, year after year we have seen great excitement from young people and their families. It is about creating equity of opportunity and supporting the learning journey of our participants.
“Children can only aspire to what they know exists and it is our role to create opportunities for all children to understand where the future can take them. Our fun, interactive educational program puts young people in direct contact with higher education institutions and helps to create aspirations of lifelong learning.
“We are incredibly proud of what the Children’s University program has achieved over the past six years, and we welcome this new funding commitment, which provides hope of a bright future for many young people right across the nation,” Ms Hagenus said.
Children’s University Australasia is currently operating in South Australia, Tasmania, New South Wales, the Northern Territory and Western Australia, and this year also started in Canterbury, New Zealand.