How Regional Development Investment improved regional education

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Royalties for Regions (RfR) has provided more than $380 million to improve education services in regional WA.

To determine the effects of such spending, the then Department of Regional Development commissioned two independent evaluations.

The evaluations looked at more 45 RfR-funded projects such as rebuilding Esperance Primary school; improving the Orange School Bus system; and expanding the Schools Breakfast Program to cater to many new schools in lower socio-economic areas.

Although some long-term impacts of the projects are yet to be realised, the evaluations found clear evidence that regional education services improved as a direct and indirect result of RfR

Royalties for Regions (RfR) has provided more than $380 million to improve education services in regional WA.

To determine the effects of such spending, the then Department of Regional Development commissioned two independent evaluations.

The evaluations looked at more 45 RfR-funded projects such as rebuilding Esperance Primary school; improving the Orange School Bus system; and expanding the Schools Breakfast Program to cater to many new schools in lower socio-economic areas.

Although some long-term impacts of the projects are yet to be realised, the evaluations found clear evidence that regional education services improved as a direct and indirect result of RfR funding.

What did the two evaluations look at?

The evaluations looked at the social and economic impacts RfR had on education services. The two key questions asked were:

1. To what extent has Royalties for Regions affected the delivery of education services in regional WA?
2. What economic benefits have been derived from RfR funding in the education sector in regional WA?

What did they find?

The evaluation looked at five RfR-funded projects. It found that the RfR funding had an overall positive impact on the delivery of education services in regional WA and provided:

  • Better facilities for students and teachers;
  • More programs; and
  • More incentives for disadvantaged and at risk children to attend school and do well.

The funding and improved facilities also helped people develop more pride in their schools and communities, with teachers saying they were less likely to seek jobs elsewhere.

Likewise, parents indicated the improved facilities encouraged them to keep their families in the region rather than move elsewhere, which might have otherwise been the case.

The economic impact of education funding through RfR was also looked at over 20 of the 40 RfR projects were evaluated and modelled to focus on future economic benefits. The modelling estimated that projects will:

  • Increase economic welfare by $437 million (net present value over 20 years), relative to an investment of $267 million;
  • Generate $667 million in economic activity across nine regions in WA (net present value over 20 years), as measured by Gross Regional Product, or GRP; and
  • Generate an additional 4,643 full-time job years over the next 20 years (a job year is equivalent to full-time employment of one person for 12 months).

A key finding of the economic evaluation is that some of the projects with a relatively small investment input (compared to capital projects) can generate a large economic benefit. The Foodbank School Breakfast Program and the Clontarf Academies are two such projects.

The evaluation found that the regions that will experience the largest economic welfare gains are:

  • $103 million in the South West;
  • $76 million in the Wheatbelt; and
  • $62 million in the Kimberley.

To find out more on how RfR helped improve education services and the economic impacts of RfR-funded projects, you can read the evaluation summaries here and here.

You can also find out more information about some of the projects in the case studies below.

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