“I’m a single parent and I received Back to School vouchers for my two girls a number of years ago. My youngest daughter has since won a private school scholarship and the eldest is at a University College in Adelaide. I attribute these achievements to the good feeling the girls developed about school when they were correctly dressed and therefore happy to attend.”
Voucher recipient's parent,
Education is a fundamental right and we believe that a quality education should be accessible, no matter where you live.
The Back to School (BTS) program is a simple concept which has a significant impact. This initiative helps rural, regional and remote students access quality educational experiences by providing $50 gift vouchers which are redeemable for items such as school uniforms, clothing, shoes, school bags and stationery items necessary to start the school year.
In 2013/14, BTS hit a new record - distributing $803,350 in vouchers to 16,067 children and their families, across 56 rural and regional areas. This is an increase of 3,000 vouchers on the prior year. The majority of vouchers are redeemed through Target, however, this year vouchers valued at $97,100 were also provided through 23 small local retail businesses.
Hearing feedback from the local organisations distributing the vouchers, as well as directly from the recipients, it is clear that having school essentials to start the new school year creates a sense of belonging and a positive attitude toward learning.
The Principal at Deniliquin North Public School has been participating in the BTS program for a few years now and explains: "It's a tough reality that kids who 'stand out' often get picked on at school. Simply having a uniform that fits and shoes without holes can give kids the confidence to participate and learn at school, as well as stand up for themselves."
The program also strikes a chord with donors, with one commenting "The feedback from schools and organisations regarding those who had received vouchers is very moving and an excellent reminder of the value of the program to community foundations and organisations, as well as individuals and families. It gives one pause to think of 17 and 18 year olds living independently and trying to finish school."