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Tuesday, 14 August 2012
Page: 8597

Mrs ANDREWS (McPherson) (22:10): I have spoken in this place on many occasions before about education and the opportunities that the Gold Coast can offer to support growth in the education sector. In particular, I have spoken about our four universities—Bond University and Southern Cross University, which are both located in my electorate of McPherson, and Griffith and Central Queensland University, both of which have campuses further north on the Gold Coast. Despite the strong university presence, though, we still have low higher education participation rates, with only about 18 per cent of the Gold Coast population aged 25 to 34 years being degree qualified, compared with the national average of 29 per cent. It is clear that a lot more work needs to be undertaken to encourage secondary school students in particular to pursue a tertiary education.

In my electorate of McPherson there are over 30 primary and secondary schools, varying in size from just over 60 students to over 2,000. Each of the schools and their staff do a fantastic job in educating our young Australians and helping them develop the skills to succeed in life. Tonight I would like to speak about two schools in particular—Marymount College and Caningeraba State School.

Last month I attended the Marymount College careers expo, an event the school holds each year, which brings various tertiary institutions, businesses and community groups together to provide students and their parents with information about the options available to students when they graduate from school. For many students graduation and leaving school can be a daunting experience. As they complete their studies, students find themselves needing answers to questions such as what they will study and at which university or VET institution, whether they should take a gap year first, whether they should get a part-time job, and, if need be, what payments or programs they should apply for to help them financially with their studies. This is all part of promoting further studies as an option for our secondary students. Many of these choices will have both short- and long-term effects on the journey each of these students will undertake, so it is crucial that they and their parents have all the facts before them in making these important choices.

It is fantastic to see schools like Marymount College put on these free career information events for their students. Bringing as much information as possible together in one easy to access location makes life easier for students and their parents. I would like to congratulate Marymount on an excellent career information evening.

I would now like to speak about Caningeraba State School, a primary school that is also located in my electorate of McPherson. Last week I attended a school assembly at Caningeraba at which I presented an Australian flag. At the same assembly they were farewelling students and teachers from Kanonji Junior High School, in Japan, who had travelled to the Gold Coast to experience school life with the Caningeraba students.

Exchanges between students from other countries, such as Japan, and Australian schools benefit students by giving them the opportunity to experience cultures other than their own and further develop their skills in another language they may be studying. Learning languages other than English is an important aspect to ensuring our students have a head start in today's world, yet the proportion of year 12 students studying a language other than English has dropped from about 40 per cent in 1960 to 12 per cent today. Through the coalition's plan to increase to 40 per cent within a decade the number of year 12 students studying a language other than English, we can ensure that our students will be able to meet the challenges of the future in a changing world. It will also provide them with the opportunity to interact with students from across the world and develop new perspectives.

It is important that we continue to foster our students' career goals and aspirations whilst developing their skills and providing unique experiences. Marymount College and Caningeraba State School should be applauded for their work, and I will continue to be a strong supporter of such measures, which help give our students the best possible edge in today's world. I will continue to strongly support development and growth of the education sector on the Gold Coast and to work with education providers in our area to increase the higher education participation rate.