Can-do kids fantastic to see

Last updated 08:07 20/11/2012

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OPINION: There has been a lot of discussion in the media lately about where young people are going to get jobs and what the future of the job market may look like, writes Frana Cardno in Southern Focus.

Schemes like the Young Enterprise Awards, which happen throughout the world including New Zealand, enable young people to think up business ideas and work through the processes of establishing a business and selling their product. I believe this is so important because many of our young people may have to create their own jobs in the future.

Stories abound about the young entrepreneurs who started selling things like cards when they were aged 7 and now at 20 own successful businesses.

I have seen the same thing with my own children, who were collecting and selling pine cones when they were kids, and now through technology are able to sell what they create throughout the world.

It's a can-do attitude and one that a lot of young people do have and will need to have. That was brought home to me very clearly when I attended the launch of the new broadband programme at Northern Southland College. The school is part of the Government's Rural Broadband Initiative and now has a 100MB internet connection, a major increase from the previous 2MB. It was fantastic to see how much enthusiasm the children had for learning.

Young boys are often hard to engage in the classroom, but the boys in one of the classrooms were working on their own farm on an online programme, and were buying and selling produce and planning plantings, costings and logistics. One boy was growing tomatoes and selling tomato sauce and was in the process of negotiating with his neighbour to buy some corn seed.

In the other rooms, there were live video conference calls with Telford Rural Polytechnic as the college is part of the NZ Virtual Learning Network, which links more than 2000 students to 84 teachers in 170 schools.

There were demonstrations of Livewire Learning, an online intelligent tutoring and testing system; the Availl reading system, using subtitled videos; using Google Earth for geography classes; Brainpop, which are interactive videos with questions; online recreational games which assist in learning; e-readers; an online tour of the Smithsonian National History Museum in the United States; as well as mathematics and graphing, typing, interactive website, space exploration and Electro-City, where students design a city taking into account all the energy and environmental requirements.

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There is even karaoke, and Deputy Prime Minister Bill English showed his skills at singing with the students.

How fantastic that all this is happening in one of our rural schools and I really wanted to stay and learn more with the kids as it was so interesting.

It is also fantastic to note that Northern Southland is one of the first schools in the South Island to get the rural broadband and that is thanks to the preparation by Venture Southland.

This is all about learning in a creative way and I believe it is so important for the children as they will be going out into a world that is so different from what many of us went out into, where there were jobs aplenty and we could do what we wanted.

Another great coup for Southland and in particular Tuatapere is Victoria University's adoption of the Hump Ridge Track. The agreement with the track board is to develop a joint research programme into tourism, ecology and community development in the region.

As part of the agreement, Victoria will offer two summer scholarships each year to senior students who live in the area to carry out research on the track for 10 weeks, with the results to be used by the board.

As well, the university will offer one scholarship a year to a student who wants to study tourism, ecology or a related field, from the Waiau Valley area. It's a fantastic opportunity for the students and for Tuatapere and the track.

We are lucky in Southland because there are opportunities such as this and the benefits of being a Southlander were highlighted to me at our recent citizenship ceremony. A young man from the Ukraine was telling me how much he likes Southland and likes the opportunities we have here. He is dairy farming and is proud to live here.

I believe this is a message we need to ensure our young people have. Not only do they need to be aware of opportunities and take them when they can, but they also need to be creative about what they want to do.

I read once that the students who are in primary school will be working in jobs that haven't even been created yet, and so let's create them in Southland.

Let's be innovative and bring our young people back home after they have explored the world because Southland is a great place!

» Frana Cardno is the Southland District mayor.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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