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University of fun comes to River Murray towns

School children in the Murraylands and Riverland will don academic gowns and mortar boards with an international self-directed learning program launching this month.

Children’s University Adelaide – a member of Children’s University Australia – will help to improve children’s participation in education by demonstrating learning opportunities in everyday experiences, not just the classroom.
Less than one-third (31%) of the Murraylands and Riverland population completes Year 12 or equivalent studies, compared to 33% in regional South Australia and the 47% state-wide average, according to the latest Census data.

Children aged 7 – 18 can participate in Children’s University before school, at lunchtime, after school and during holidays, and visit businesses, sporting clubs, charities and community groups in the region to learn and highlight potential career pathways.

Children’s University will help children develop resilience, optimism and confidence by encouraging them to try new activities, discover new passions and visit new places.

“The program will open children’s eyes to what can be learned from their everyday experiences,” said Children’s University Australia director Kiri Hagenus.

“Children could design their dream home with a real estate agent, exposing them to architecture and concepts of mathematics, while others could learn the principles of sports science or physiotherapy at the local football club.

“Learning Destinations – the name given to organisations helping children learn – show that everyday learning can be linked to further education such as university courses.”

Hours of activity are recorded in children’s Passport to Learning and once they reach the required number of hours, are presented wearing caps and gowns at graduation ceremonies held in high profile locations such as Adelaide University’s Bonython Hall.

Children’s University Adelaide is being launched in the region in partnership with Regional Development Australia Murraylands and Riverland (RDAMR) and with the support of the State Government.

RDAMR chief executive officer Jo Podoliak is urging more schools to register and for businesses and organisations to become Learning Destinations to help ensure the program’s success.

“We would like to see all the region’s schools registered and at least 30 Learning Destinations across the Murraylands and Riverland,” she said.

“We need to show our youth the exciting opportunities in the region.”

“Every business, sporting club, government organisation, charity and community group could become a Learning Destination and play an important role in helping to shape the future generations.”

Ms Podoliak said research had found some children in regional areas had less access to education, and that Children’s University would help to reverse the trend.

“The program will make children more engaged with the community, and help foster the next generation of entrepreneurs, business owners and thought leaders. ‘

“By building our children’s aspirations and improving demand for better education access, we can help to secure a university footprint in the region.”

Ms Hagenus said initial feedback from schools and students – ahead of the program’s launch – had been overwhelmingly positive.

“Schools recognise the benefit of extending learning to outside the classroom and children think it sounds like great fun,” she said.

“If parents and children are interested in participating in Children’s University, we encourage them to speak to their teachers and school principal about getting their school involved.”

Currently there are more than 300 partner organisations registered as Children’s University Learning Destinations across South Australia, including a number in the Murraylands and Riverland.

Children’s University Australia is a not-for-profit organisation led by University of Adelaide, funded via government grants, sponsorships and philanthropic donations.

Current learning destinations in the region:
Monarto Zoo, Bunnings (Berri and Murray Bridge), Murray Bridge Public Library, The Round House, Captain’s Cottage, Renmark Public Library, Mid-Murray Library, Chaffey Community Centre.

Registered schools include:
Murray Bridge North Primary School, Mypolonga Primary School, Jervois Primary School, Renmark North Primary School, Waikerie Primary School.

For more information about Children’s University or to register your interest as a participant or learning destination, visit www.childrensuniversity.com.au or contact RDAMR on (08) 8580 8500 in Berri or (08) 8535 7170 in Murray Bridge.

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