Increasing Students’ Social Capital through Community Involvement in Rural and Regional Education
School and community interaction is an important topic in education, as evidence suggests that communities that value their local schools engender more positive long-term outcomes and a strengthening of the social capital for the students from those schools. Although school and community interaction has been explored from the schools’ perspective, less research has occurred from the perspective of the key stakeholders and leaders of a community, particularly in rural, regional, and disadvantaged areas. The context for this exploration is the Australian state of Tasmania, and the research findings may have implications for policy makers, school leaders, and teachers both nationally and internationally. Eighty-six community leaders and community members from rural, regional, and disadvantaged areas of the state responded to a survey, which included indicating the level and type of involvement they and their organisations had with local schools. The evidence from their comments suggests that community, business, and social leaders can play an important role in building social capital and as advocates for their local schools, as well as being a source of information, advice, and service to schools. In particular, this paper provides a foundation for future research with community members on their involvement in schooling and the impact of this involvement on students’ social capital.
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