Innovative program sees students working harder
Benalla’s young people are being saved from a possible lifetime of unemployment thanks to an innovative program run by the Tomorrow Today Foundation in partnership with Benalla P-12 and FCJ College.
The Hands-on Learning program gives students the confidence and skills to succeed and complete their schooling.
Peter Janas was a teacher involved in the program at Benalla P-12 College for five years and said the benefits he saw were remarkable.
‘‘The young people overcame issues that were holding them back, such as lack of confidence, learning difficulties or family pressures,’’ Mr Janas said.
‘‘Through the program they discovered they had skills and other attributes that are valued by the community.
‘‘A number of students take part in Hands-on Learning because they have disengaged from school.
‘‘If they had continued to stay away from school and didn’t get an education, they may never have found a job and would more likely be looking at a future on welfare.
‘‘The fact that the program helped some young people to deal with their issues really turned individual lives around.
‘‘Hands-on Learning is a small group of 10 students who work with adults on real projects, such as maintenance or building things like public seating.
‘‘We use real tools and treat the students as adults. For several I worked with, it led to school-based apprenticeships and jobs.
‘‘It’s really rewarding to see that growth in your students.’’
Mr Janas said through Hands-on Learning’s community projects, the community had gained infrastructure it would not have otherwise.
‘‘Working on this infrastructure reconnected some of the students with the wider community, which benefits everyone in Benalla,’’ Mr Janas said.
Foundation executive officer Pat Claridge said the key to overcoming disadvantage was education.
‘‘The school results show a drop in absenteeism and suspension rates for 12 to 16 year-old students in Benalla in the time the Hands-on Learning program has been running,’’ Ms Claridge said.
‘‘This means more of Benalla’s young people are better engaged at school and continuing their education.
‘‘Like Peter, we are delighted to see the benefits for individual students from the supportive environment Hands-on Learning provides.
‘‘We look forward to continuing to assist students to re-engage with their education and their community, after all they are our future.’’
Beneficial: Students take part in Hands-on Learning.