It is more than 2500 kilometres from Kempsey to Groote Eylandt, in the Gulf of Carpentaria, but the early childhood literacy work piloted in NSW is about to begin on the island … with one big difference.The preschoolers, aided by family and other community members, will be taught in both the Anindilyakwa language and English. Mary-Ruth Mendel, the chairwoman of the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation, said the combination of speech pathology and educational understanding significantly improved children’s entry to school. ”Playing games and activities designed by [us] in the Anindilyakwa language and in English develops strong oral language skills and crucial brain development,” she said. ”These skills are essential stepping stones towards strong English reading and writing development.” The speech therapy component helped children reach an ”aha” moment, she said, when deciding whether they were listening with their ”English ears rather than their Anindilyakwa ears”. The Territory’s Department of Education has signed a three-year contract for the program. Up to 130 children will have access to it.
Posts Tagged ‘Education’
A television channel is broadcasting the first lessons in an Aboriginal language aimed at young children, in a bid to stem an alarming decline that wiped out hundreds of native dialects. “Waabiny Time,” for three to six-year-olds, teaches “yes,” “no” and other basic terms in the Noongar language, which is spoken in the southwestern region around Perth. The show, broadcast daily and repeated Saturdays, started last month with 13 half-hour episodes and proved so popular the entire series is now being screened again. “I realised while working with Aboriginal communities that kids weren’t talking with their grandparents in their language,” producer Cath Trimboli said.
Mal Brough is right: there can be no progress in indigenous education without attendance (“Punish parents to save kids, says Brough”, 29/4). If any parent in any city of Australia habitually failed to ensure their child’s attendance at school, they would be fined and, if they continued to flout the law, their child would be put into foster or state care. This can’t and won’t happen in remote areas of Australia because, obviously, it would create a new stolen generation for which non-indigenous Australia would be blamed and have to apologise. Alistair Gordon, Pialba, Qld.
Lex Hall; 29/4/10
A family-style boarding program has lifted retention rates for indigenous students to 90 per cent as Marrara Christian College battles the bleak literacy and numeracy statistics plaguing students who come from a “lost generation of parents” in remote communities. For the past 10 years the school, on the outskirts of Darwin, has run what it calls the Family Home Groups boarding program, in which indigenous students from remote communities live in the suburbs with “house parents”. Melissa Mallinson and her husband, Karl, have been house parents at the 630-student school for the past six years and are looking after nine boys, aged 12 and 13. For most of the 90 students in the program, the transition to academic life is long. “In the communities there are no boundaries. So it takes about six months before they realise they’re safe and secure. Then things start changing.”
Jewel Topsfield; 7/4/10
A tiny school campus in Bendigo run by the controversial Exclusive Brethren religious sect is receiving $1.2 million in federal funding to upgrade its library, despite having just 11 primary students last year. Documents also show that the Exclusive Brethren-run Glenvale School’s Swan Hill campus – which has just 16 primary students – received $800,000 for a hall under the schools building program. Critics claim this allocation of funds provides a stark example of the poor targeting of taxpayer money under the so-called Building the Education Revolution program, which has been dogged by allegations of rorting and mismanagement. The Australian Education Union called on Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to justify funding a school run by the Exclusive Brethren – which Mr Rudd while in opposition branded an ”extremist cult” that broke up families.
Nicolas Rothwell; 20/3/10
Evidence of appalling attendance rates at Wadeye has not troubled the NT education establishment LAST weekend’s disclosure in Inquirer that only one in five children in the fast-growing Top End Aboriginal township of Wadeye attend school regularly has been met with leaden silence from the education authorities in the Northern Territory. The detailed figures from Wadeye, contained in a comprehensive report by Australian National University demographer John Taylor, make plain that only 21 per cent of the school-age population are in school for an average of four days in each five-day week. The official statistics that circulate in the education bureaucracy record student totals for enrolment, a figure measured on eight set days in each year. But enrolment figures are much higher than the true attendance rate and skew the picture completely
Natasha Robinson; 6/2/10
Aboriginal children in care are routinely being placed with relatives in remote communities where they are exposed to sexual abuse and alcohol-fuelled violence, a wide-ranging report on child protection – kept hidden by the Northern Territory government – has revealed. The Bath report – compiled after an audit of scores of cases of children deemed at high risk who were in the care of the state – exposes the near-total breakdown of child protection systems in the Territory, where background checks on carers are rarely carried out, ministers regularly fail to review the progress of cases, and social services for troubled families are in critically short supply. Howard Bath, who was appointed Children’s Commissioner in the Territory after compiling the extensive report, documents case after case where children were failed by the system that was supposed to protect them
Stephen Lunn’ 19/11/09
Indigenous children and those living in remote areas continue to do the worst academically and have gained no ground in the past year, despite widespread recognition of their disadvantage. National literacy and numeracy data released yesterday show very little improvement between 2008 and 2009 for indigenous children, with wide gaps also remaining between children living in the cities and remote regions. The federal government’s National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy for the first time breaks down its data by indigenous status, location and parental occupation to find Aboriginal children are falling further behind in some cases. For instance, for Year 5 reading, the results for indigenous children in metropolitan, provincial and remote areas were not significantly different from 2008 to 2009, with only students in very remote regions showing improvement in that time.
Dale Webster; 16/12/09
Four years after Cyclone Ingrid ripped apart the Gawa Christian School on Elcho Island, off the Arnhem Land coast, it is wind that will secure its future with the commissioning last month of what is believed to be the largest private off-the-grid wind turbine in the southern hemisphere. The tower will replace a diesel generator that has been eating up to $80,000 worth of fuel a year and providing an unreliable power source that has cut out up to 60 times a day. There have also been periods when the community has been without power for weeks when it has broken down. Even when the generator is working properly, the school can afford to run it only between 6am and 10.30pm, which means hot, sleepless nights without even a fan to bring relief.
Barak Ravid; 10/12/09; (3 Items)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Wednesday that certain settlements outside of the large blocs in the West Bank – enclaves that Israel plans to keep as part of any future arrangement with the Palestinians – would be considered “national priority areas.” The isolated settlements included in the region will receive benefits in education, employment and other areas. The Prime Minster’s bureau distributed a map to lawmakers ahead of the cabinet meeting on Sunday, which included West Bank settlements inhabited by over 120,000 settlers.
Natasha Robinson; 5/12/09; (4 Items)
The public servant charged with measuring progress on closing the gap of disadvantage in 29 priority indigenous communities has been unable to measure health improvements among Aborigines because state governments failed to release key data. Co-ordinator-general of remote indigenous services Brian Gleeson delivered his first report to the government yesterday. It concluded that progress in achieving targets for indigenous reform set by the Council of Australian Governments was broadly on track. But Mr Gleeson warned that a “business as usual” attitude among some public servants was hindering progress, and infrastructure projects including boarding schools planned for the Northern Territory were behind schedule. And Mr Gleeson expressed his frustration that the signing of COAG agreements had meant the federal government had “limited access” to key data on closing the gap, with state governments failing to provide data to him for his report, particularly relating to health.
Mary-Ruth Mendel; 28/11/09
The average four- to five-year-old has a listening vocabulary of 2800 words, which grows to an amazing 13,000 words by the time the child is between five and six. By that age a child should be able to say sentences with details, usually use appropriate grammar, relay a story, sing entire songs and recite nursery rhymes. By the time he or she is 17 an 80,000-word vocabulary will be needed. Much of the acquisition depends on the ability to read books. As long as indigenous children face the literacy challenges they do, this will not be acquired. Not learning to read fluently denies readers the key to many language and thinking skills. It denies them the skills to gain knowledge, find information and independently learn – essential modern skills. It is unacceptable that four out of every five indigenous children in remote Australia do not read to the minimum level.
Heath Gilmore; 27/11/09
Indigenous culture will be embedded in the new national school curriculum under a proposal being considered by leading educators. English, science, history and other disciplines will contain an indigenous perspective on issues ranging from the portrayal of British colonisation to the Northern Territory intervention. Maths teachers could be asked to use real-life statistical Aboriginal data for problem-solving exercises and students could explore counting methods used by different tribes. It is part of a wider push to lift the educational standards of Aboriginal children and the general knowledge of indigenous issues among all schoolchildren. Peter Hill, the new chief executive of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, will present the proposal for a mandatory Aboriginal perspective to his board next month.
Paige Taylor; 14/11/09;(4 Items)
Plans are under way to separate asylum-seeker children on Christmas Island from local children by teaching them at purpose-built classrooms away from the school grounds. The Weekend Australian has learned that Christmas Island District High School is investigating the establishment of eight transportable classrooms next to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s Phosphate Hill detention facilities, where 167 asylum-seekers are being held. A total of 75 asylum-seeker children are attending school on Christmas Island. They are taught by six teachers funded by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship. Most go to classrooms in the grounds of Christmas Island District High School, where there are about 300 other students of all ages. Under the plan, all but the youngest asylum-seeker children would instead learn at Phosphate Hill, where the school established a classroom for older Afghan boys in April.
Justine Ferrari, 26/10/09
Indigenous leaders, academics and educators are angered by a lack of consultation in the development of the national school curriculum, which they argue relegates Aboriginal people and their culture to “historical artifacts”. In a letter to Education Minister Julia Gillard, obtained by The Australian, the group calls for indigenous people to be actively consulted and involved in the development of the curriculum, including a representative on the board of the National Curriculum Authority. The letter, which will be sent this week to Ms Gillard and the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority, says failure to engage with indigenous people and include their perspectives in the curriculum is at odds with federal government policy, and the sentiment expressed in Kevin Rudd’s Sorry Day speech to lay claim “to a future that embraces all Australians”.
Fatima Measham; 20/10/09
Fatima Measham is a state school teacher in Victoria.
Few would disagree that, at some point, children ought to understand how the human reproductive system works. It tends to be the case that children initiate this exploration, often prompted by increasing awareness of their private parts or the anticipated arrival of a younger sibling. But discrepancies can arise between parental preferences and school delivery of such information. That was the case at Holy Name Catholic Primary School in Toowoomba, Queensland. Appalled that his children, aged seven and nine, were shown genital diagrams and a birthing video, Greg Wells transferred them to a state school. The story highlights the contentious and complex nature of sex education: how much ought to be revealed at which age and by whom? The fact that sexual norms vary among communities naturally makes such curriculum problematic. In fact, there is no comprehensive syllabus being applied consistently across Australian states and territories. Inevitably, schools are being accused of either doing too much too early or not enough.