The Lawrence Government is to introduce a series of measures aimed at returning chronic truants and persistent juvenile offenders to mainstream education.
The $2 million, three-year package of initiatives approved by State Cabinet was announced today by Community Development Minister Eric Ripper and Education Minister Kay Hallahan.
They said the measures were aimed at reducing truancy and juvenile crime by addressing one of the causes - educational underachievement.
Measures would focus on key areas - Armadale/Kelmscott, Kwinana/Rockingham and Balga/Girrawheen, Midland and Lockridge.
The package included:
· improved tracking of students missing classes;
· a range of alternative education programs outside the regular classroom; and
· extra specialist teachers at schools in problem areas.
Mr Ripper said the package targeted an estimated 250 young people with behavioural and educational problems.
"Young people who fail to achieve at school are at risk of becoming truants and falling into crime. The new measures tackle the problem by addressing students' basic educational needs away from the formal class room setting," he said.
Mrs Hallahan said the alternative education programs were aimed at improving the social behaviour of students and developing their literacy, numeracy and life skills.
Under the programs, students could set their own behavioural and educational goals, go on group excursions and undertake work experience to observe appropriate role models.
They would also be provided with health education, covering nutrition, sex education, drug education and interpersonal skills.
"These young people need basic educational and life skills if they are to progress into further education or training or find employment," Mrs Hallahan said.
New alternative education programs would be introduced in Armadale/Kelmscott and proposals were being developed for Kwinana/Rockingham, Balga/Girrawheen and Midland/Lockridge.
Four existing programs would also be extended. These were Bayswater Youth Options, the Community Based Education Program in the north-east metropolitan corridor, the Balga/Girrawheen off-campus program and the Bibra Alternative Learning Initiatives program in the south-western metropolitan area.
In addition, four specialist teachers would back up teachers at schools in target areas.
Mr Ripper said the package was put together following a study of the backgrounds of serious repeat car thieves.
The study found that 93 young offenders, with ten or more car theft charges, were responsible for about 44 per cent of the total number of car theft-charges laid against juveniles in 1990.
Of these, more than three-quarters were neither employed nor attending school and more than half those not attending school were 14 years or younger when they left. Of those who had left, three-quarters had problems when at school.