Rural students aspiring for higher education usually need to leave their home and relocate thousands of kilometres away, often at great expense. For the past two decades, the Country Education Foundation of Australia (CEFA) has worked to bridge the gap by sponsoring education opportunities for rural and regional youth.
Overcoming barriers to education
Since 1993, local education foundations established by the CEFA have helped more than 2500 regional country students achieve their goals in higher education. The foundation assists in overcoming financial and distance barriers so rural students can attend their preferred tertiary institution. In 2014 alone, 450 students from four Australian states and territories shared grants totalling over $920,000, with many students keen to return home upon graduation to contribute to their local community.
Chief Executive of the CEFA, Sarah Taylor, understands the difficulties rural and regional kids face upon graduating from high school.
“Once school is finished, many rural kids are faced with the reality that the place they’ve grown up in, or live in, offers limited education or employment opportunities…they have no choice but to move away from home or travel long distances to regional centres,” Taylor said.
Making the transition easier
The CEFA realises the transition from high school to higher education can be overwhelming, and is committed to showing local youth that their community believes in them. The not-for-profit foundation, formed in Boorowa in 1993, quickly spread to Yass, Harden and Cowra, and now consists of almost 50 local education foundations.
CEFA assistance includes:
- Tools and Equipment
The growth of the initiative has not gone unnoticed. Partnerships with universities across Australia have resulted in funds provided to match the local grants.
“It’s great to have the support of so many of Australia’s leading universities – their matched funding really makes a difference…our greatest challenge is fundraising,” Ms Taylor said.