AIME to close educational gap

Miriam Keogh mentors Cohen Aldridge at the first 2014 AIME session at the University of Wollongong Bega campus.

Miriam Keogh mentors Cohen Aldridge at the first 2014 AIME session at the University of Wollongong Bega campus.

AUSTRALIAN Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME) is an education program run to support Indigenous students through high school and university.

In the Bega Valley, local Indigenous high school students are mentored by volunteer students from the University of Wollongong Bega Campus, with the aim of closing the “educational gap” according to AIME centre manager of Wollongong Brenden Newton. 

“The idea is to empower and support Indigenous kids who are in high school,” Mr Newton said.

The program is open to all Indigenous children in Years 9-12 to take part in five sessions throughout the year, the second of which will be held this Friday.

Around 30 students attended the last session, but Mr Newton expects around 70 to come to each of the successive sessions, held at the Bega UOW campus. 

Students attend from the high schools of Bega, Eden Marine, Lumen Christi, Bombala and Narooma. 

There are about 20 volunteer mentors in the Valley from the Bega UOW Campus who tutor the children on a 1:3 ratio.  

On Friday, students will arrive at the campus to take part in three one-hour sessions throughout the day. 

The year groups will be split to deliver content specifically catered for the age groups, according to Mr Newton. 

Mr Newton said AIME is “fun and engaging” - for instance English is taught by turning it into hip-hop.

Throughout the sessions, students build on their curriculum and Mr Newton said the fifth and final session is more of a celebration where they take their “hats off to the kids” and are visited by a couple of famous guests. 

AIME began in 2005 and in 2013 began running its program in Bega. 

Trey Parsons is mentored by Marcey Vitouchova at the University of Wollongong Bega Campus.

Trey Parsons is mentored by Marcey Vitouchova at the University of Wollongong Bega Campus.

Indigenous mentoring program aims to engage

BEGINING in 2005, the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME) had 25 Indigenous high school students being mentored by 25 university students. 

In 2014, AIME has around 1250 mentors supporting approximately 3500 students in 25 different locations and in partnership with 16 university sites in all of the mainland states and the ACT.

It aims to have the same rate of Indigenous as non-Indigenous students continuing on from high school to further study, which will help build the Indigenous talent pipeline. 

AIME plans to expand into the NT in 2015, and by 2018 expects to engage with 10,000 Indigenous high school students every year, supporting their transition to further study.

Statistics gathered by AIME state in 2012 36.8 per cent of non-Indigenous and 3.8 per cent of Indigenous students progressed from Year 9 to university.

However, this number jumped to 22.1 per cent when the Indigenous students were mentored by AIME.

According to AIME, a report generated by KPMG found every $1 spent on the program had $7 of benefits in the economy. 

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