AIME-ing for educational equality
An upbeat and dynamic educational program has proven to improve dramatically the chances of Indigenous students finishing school at the same rate as their non-Indigenous peers.
The Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME), which started in 2005, is an Indigenous corporation which involves Indigenous and non-Indigenous university students mentoring Indigenous high school students.
Today, AIME connects 1000 Indigenous high school students with 1000 volunteer university students across 10 university sites in three states.
The organisation's independently assessed annual report found that school completion rates for AIME students were significantly higher than the Indigenous completion rates across every year level. The Year 9 to 12 completion rate for AIME students was 62.7 percent - double the national Indigenous average of 32.4 percent and approaching the national non-Indigenous average of 75.2 percent.
AIME CEO Jack Manning Bancroft founded the program at the age of 19 when he was a student at the University of Sydney. His father, Ned Manning, is a well-known actor, playwright and former NSW public school teacher and his mother is the celebrated Indigenous artist Bronwyn Bancroft.
He said the program, now in its eighth year, was mutually beneficial.
"The magic is what happens when Indigenous kids involved in AIME and non-Indigenous uni students get the chance to connect in a real-life relationship," Mr Manning Bancroft said.
AUDIO (MP3): Listen to Mr Manning Bancroft discuss why he set up AIME.
The goal of AIME was two-fold, he said: to increase the progression rates of Year 10 and 12 Indigenous students and to increase the university admission rates for Indigenous students.
"We are working towards educational equality where Indigenous students perform and finish school at the same rate as every Australian child," Mr Manning Bancroft said.
AUDIO (MP3): Listen to Mr Manning Bancroft discuss the program's success to date.
For Sydney Secondary College Leichhardt campus principal, Melinda Bright, the benefit of AIME for her students was unparalleled.
"We have seen the program help our students with their confidence, communication and interpersonal skills and we have noticed a difference in the way they hold themselves," Ms Bright said.
The college had been involved in the program for the past six years and found it had benefited the students and the wider school community.
"The program delivers year after year, it has gained the trust of our school community especially our local Aboriginal community and it has opened our students' and their families' eyes to what they can achieve by believing in themselves," Ms Bright said.
Read the audio transcripts (PDF 359kB).
Photo supplied by AIME.