Well schooled: kids break the test barrier
Tony Koch; 18/9/09
It’s been a long, hard haul for the people of the Yarrabah Aboriginal community in north Queensland, and the children in Year 3 at the local primary school are showing how it is paying off. In 12 months, their competency levels have tripled, according to national literacy and numeracy testing, with the proportion of those at the national standard rocketing from 17.5 per cent to 61.3 per cent. Principal Simon Cotton attributes the success to factors including a succession of dedicated principals and teachers at the school, the involvement of parents and the community in educating their children, and the insistence that all lessons are delivered in English. In the mid-1990s, alcoholism, violence and suicide were tearing apart the indigenous community of 3000, south of Cairns. In 1995, five suicides were recorded, but in 1998 the Yarrabah men’s group Yaba Bimbi (meaning Brother Father) was formed to provide help and counselling for those identified as at risk and to restore the role of men in their families as providers, teachers and protectors.