Corporate support sought for academy

Steve Broni
Steve Broni
A Dunedin gathering aimed at boosting rural science education has again proved successful, but organisers aim to strengthen funding through corporate support.

University of Otago Science Academy director Steve Broni says the education programme has opened up "a world of possibilities" for potentially high-achieving year 13 pupils from rural-provincial, small or lower-decile schools.

The academy programme began in 2011, initially for a three-year trial, but has continued into its 10th year.

That was despite the end of Ministry of Education funding last year, Mr Broni said.

The university decided to continue the academy this year, funding it fully from the university’s own resources and the modest contribution each participant makes.

A record 67 year 13 pupils attended in 2018, and 51 pupils attended the academy’s first Dunedin camp for this year last week.

The academy provides two week-long residential camps a year, as well as continuing online support.

Mr Broni said participating pupils had been strongly engaged with the morning seminars last week and had asked more "well thought-out questions" than he could recall previously.

Nine secondary school science teachers attended professional development sessions through the latest camp, down from the usual 15-20, because of the reduced ministry funding.

Beyond 2020, the university was "working to attract philanthropic and corporate partners" to support the academy, which had had a sometimes "transformational impact" on many young people.

University director planning and funding David Thomson said the university was "exploring revenue options through private individuals as well as trusts and foundations, and corporate philanthropy".

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