South Perth MLA John McGrath has called on the State Government to increase funding to a schools’ community program involving WA football legend Barry Cable.
Mr McGrath told State Parliament on Thursday 22 April that the Community Development Foundation’s programs, especially the Schools’ Passport System, had the potential to make great inroads into truancy in WA schools.
Under the passport system, students through regular attendance, and parents, through participation in school programs and volunteering at schools, can build up points that are converted into dollars to be spent on items such as school uniforms, books, lunches, outings, swimming lessons etc.
The Passport system has even spread to some prisons, linked to participating schools, where inmates, by undertaking programs, can build up points to be used by their children at school.
“These programs have resulted in direct increases in student attendance and participation, community self-determination and wellbeing, parent involvement and participation in school planning and direction.” Mr McGrath told Parliament in a grievance to the Minister for Education, Liz Constable MLA.
“The Passport program is so innovative that one cannot help but be impressed with it.
“Last month I had an opportunity to visit Avonvale Primary School in Northam and Neerigen Brook Primary School in Armadale and I got a chance to see firsthand the great results of this program.
“I think Barry Cable and Jenny Day are to be congratulated for coming up with this incentive program.
“Unfortunately, the downturn in the economy experienced over the past couple of years has made it extremely difficult for the CDF to raise funds from the private sector.
“I think this is a program that needs as much government support as we can give it.”
Mr McGrath said that without proper funding the passport program and other programs implemented by the CDF could fall by the wayside.
The passport system has been introduced in a handful of government schools and trials have been held at a number of others.
Mr McGrath said the CDF had been receiving some government funding ($120,000 from the Education Department this year) as part of a partnership that was put together in 1999 between State Government, indigenous communities and the private sector.
“But if the program is to grow – and there are many schools around the state that have expressed a desire to become involved – the government might have to put in more funding,” he said.