Addressing disengagement from schooling through community action networks


  • Tom Stehlik


Educators and policy makers in Australia have been concerned for some time with ensuring that young people aged 15-19 successfully engage with society through either ‘learning or earning’. For most of this cohort this means completing secondary school, and for many going on to further education and employment. A significant number of young people however disengage from formal schooling and find it difficult to re-engage due to a number of reasons – socio-economic status; mental health issues, family breakdown, or lack of relevance and meaning of the school curriculum to their lives. This paper will review recent research conducted in Australia into the reasons why young people disengage from schooling, and outline some strategies and programs that have been successful in addressing these issues. This includes recognizing that disengagement can begin in the early years of schooling and is even inter-generational; and that alternative learning programs are often better when based outside of schools involving the wider community, other agencies, and other professionals including social workers and youth workers working in collaboration with teachers.