We had a free day in Alice Springs so I visited the School of the Air with some of the girls from my tour. The school’s purpose is to educate children who lived in remote areas of Australia and did not have access to a regular public school. Currently, teachers hold classes over the internet using cameras and microphones, but in the past they used radios to communicate with the kids.
At first I just went along because I didn’t know what else to do. The other girls (Christina and Corinne from Germany and Alba from Spain) were or would soon become teachers so this was right up their alley. Unfortunately, we missed the bus that’d take us there and would have to wait another hour for the next one. According to the map, it’d only take us 40 minutes to walk there so we decided to hoof it. That was the wrong decision.
We ended up walking the wrong way and had to backtrack. When we were finally going in the right direction, it seemed as if the road would never end. It also seemed like we were getting away from the retail-type shops and walking toward an industrial area with some sketchy people linger about. When we asked someone it turned out we were going the right way after all.
All in all, it probably took us longer than an hour to get there. It would’ve been faster and less painful to wait for the bus. I was a bit upset that I’d had to walk this far to something that I had no interest in. But, once we got there I was really impressed by the school and what they do.
The school falls under the department of education (or whatever the equivalent is in Australia) like any regular school. They receive funding for teachers’ salaries, materials and equipment like the rest. The only difference is that their students come from all over the Northern Territory (and I think South Australia too) and do their studies at home on their cattle ranches or farms.
Utilizing the latest technology, the School of the Air is able to bring quality education right to the home. Teachers hold their lessons on the internet, and children log on from their home. Using their computer, a camera and a microphone, the kids are able to interact with each other like a regular classroom. Teachers even visit the kids at their homes to check their progress. Occasionally, the school hosts on-campus activities when the children come to school and are able to meet and play with their classmates. The children apparently score high marks in their studies and are top ranking among Australia’s children.
|Slide Album: School of the Air|