SOUTHWEST Queensland towns, including areas in the Maranoa, are facing a teacher shortage crisis which could lead to the liveability of regional towns declining further.
University of Southern Queensland education academic Professor Lindy-Anne Abawi warned the viability of regional, rural and remote towns could be at risk unless urgent action was taken to address the teacher shortage.
“The worst-case scenario is there will be even more small towns that are no longer viable as we have to be able to give students a quality education,” Prof Abawi said.
“The reason there is such a shortage of teachers in regional, rural and remote areas is there is a shortage of teachers more generally.
“Because of that, teachers can pick and choose where they want to be, so many of them are flocking to coastal areas and we’re not getting those teachers out in these areas like we used to which is proving to be a major problem that is likely to get far worse over coming years.”
To address the looming crisis, USQ will host an education summit in Toowoomba today (Friday November 29) which will see representatives from the education sector, health, childcare, local government and more come together to discuss how to attract more teachers to rural, regional and remote areas.
“We must all be on the same page and ensure a regional, rural and remote focus is front and centre when discussing education in this country,” Prof Abawi said.
“New teachers must be clearly taught the challenges and opportunities of regional service, non-metro students must be supported as they move into higher education, and regional communities must innovate their approach to local schooling.”
Prof Abawi said the education sector could learn from the health sector in how it attracted and kept medical workers into rural areas.
She said there could also be space for the sectors to work together when it came to accommodation logistics.