The purpose of this paper is to trace the establishment of area schools from two vantage points. The first vantage point is those who were legislatively responsible for public education in South Australia from the mid 1930s through to the end of World War 2. The second is the local community, with references to Karoonda (and districts) in particular.
The paper locates the evolution of area schools in the comprehensive public secondary schooling movement and the practice of borrowing policy initiatives from overseas and other education jurisdictions. Primary source documents have been used extensively throughout the article.
Initial resistance to the closure of small schools to form area schools was overcome by the provision of free bus transport, and the wider availability of secondary education, locally. Originally intended to provide instruction to students who would remain for most of their lives in rural communities, within ten years of opening, area schools became the means of mobility for many.
The continuing exodus of youth from rural areas in search of “greener pastures” has become one of the main issues confronting rural communities as they search for ways to maintain viability in a competitive, market driven economy.
The paper is a rigorously documented historical contribution towards debate and discussion about how governments, and others, may ensure access to secondary education in rural areas in light of demographic and economic factors.
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