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EDUCATION PARTICIPATION AND RETENTION
In 2012, similar proportions of men (60%) and women (62%) aged 15-24 years were participating in education. The education participation rate for women however was significantly higher than for men in all age groups between 25 and 64 years. In 2011, the apparent retention rate through secondary school to Year 12 for full-time students was higher for females (84%) than for males (75%).
Participation in education is frequently used as an indicator of the wellbeing of young people. Many young people continue in full-time education immediately after completing compulsory schooling. Participation in education is measured in two different ways: by the proportion of selected age groups who are students; and also by the apparent retention rate of students from Year 7/8 to either Year 10 or Year 12.
Education and training help people to develop knowledge and skills that may be used to enhance their own wellbeing and that of the broader community. For an individual, education is widely regarded as a key factor in developing a rewarding career. For the nation, having a skilled work force is vital in supporting ongoing economic development and in improving living conditions. Changes in social attitudes towards the roles and responsibilities of males and females in the latter part of the last century have led to increases in the educational participation of females across all age groups. (Endnote 1)
EDUCATION PARTICIPATION RATE, 15-24 YEARS
In 2012, about 60% of those aged 15-24 years were participating in education beyond compulsory schooling. The participation rate for both males and females aged 15-24 years in 2012 increased by four percentage points for males and three percentage points for females since 2003.
In 2012, the participation rate for both males and females in the 15-19 year age group (around 80%) was close to double that for the 20-24 year age group.
Between 2003 and 2012, the participation rate amongst males and females aged 15-19 increased significantly, up three percentage points for males (from 77% in 2003 to 80% in 2012) and four percentage points for females (78% in 2003 and 82% in 2012). Over the same period, while lower than for the 15-19 year age groups, the participation rate for 20-24 year old males and females increased by six and five percentage points respectively.
APPARENT RETENTION RATE
As noted above, in 2011 the apparent retention rate for full-time students through secondary school, from Year 7/8 to Year 12, was higher for females (84%) than for males (75%), and it has been higher in each of the previous nine years.
The apparent retention rate for full-time students is an indicator that measures the extent to which young persons are continuing their participation in secondary school education and is regarded as an important measure of the performance of education systems and related government policies. (Endnote 1)
An apparent retention rate is a measure of the number of school students in a designated year of education expressed as a percentage of their respective cohort group in a base year, such as from the first year in the secondary school (Year 7/8) to Year 10 or Year 12. Apparent retention rates are useful but they do not account for students repeating a year or migrating into or out of the relevant school student population. (See the Glossary (Education) for more information on apparent retention rates.)
ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER PEOPLES
A key element in 'closing the gap' between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and non-Indigenous Australians relates to educational participation and attainment. While the education gap has narrowed somewhat over recent years, educational participation and attainment rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians still remain well below those of non-Indigenous Australians. This is due to a range of factors including economic disadvantage, social marginalisation, health problems, differences in community expectations and geographical isolation. (Endnote 1)
Education participation rate
In 2008, the participation rate in formal learning for both male and female Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians aged 15-24 years was 41%. The participation rate was much higher for the 15-19 year age group (around 60%) compared to the 20-24 year age group (around 16%).
Apparent retention rate
The apparent retention rate from Year 7/8 to Year 12 for full-time Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students has improved since 2002. For male students it rose from 34% in 2002 to 46% in 2011, and for female students it increased from 42% to 51%. While these improvements in retention rates are much greater than those achieved for the total population over this period, in 2011 the apparent retention rate from Year 7/8 to Year 12 for full-time Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students was still only about 60% of that achieved for the total population.
1. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2010, Measures of Australia's Progress, 2010 (cat. no. 1370.0) <www.abs.gov.au>.
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