Back to school: why attendance is up in the Top End

The Remote School Attendance Strategy — a co-ordinated effort between the NT government and the feds – is bringing kids back to school, aided by the dedication of teachers.

School attendance is on the rise across the Northern Territory, thanks to a more co-ordinated bureaucratic effort and the award-winning dedication of teachers in the public system.

Compared to last year, attendance is up by about 15%, averaged over the government schools targeted in the first half of 2014. The handful of schools where it declined — three in term one — are reportedly receiving greater scrutiny from federal bureaucrats.

About 280 locals have been employed as school attendance officers and supervisors to encourage over 7000 kids across the territory to get to class more often. The Remote School Attendance Strategy was recently recognised by the NT Chief Minister’s Awards for Excellence in the Public Sector, with the Department of Education honoured for “strengthening government and public administration”.

NT schools and their departmental administrators work with the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, which has absorbed indigenous affairs, and service providers under the Remote Jobs and Communities Program, which employ the local staff. Eddie Gacitua, the department’s assistant director, enrolment and attendance, told The Mandarin that much of the strategy’s success hinged on the “interplay” between the three stakeholders.

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