For tens of thousands of years our world-view, spirituality and practical survival skills have been handed down to successive generations. But many of us understand that today our children need to complete a western-style education to be able to reach their potential. More of our youth are completing Year 12 and going on to vocational or tertiary studies.
Nearly every university around the country has an Indigenous studies centre that provides courses about Aboriginal or Indigenous life and culture. These centres also support Indigenous students by helping with accommodation and other issues in adjusting to life as a tertiary student.
There is constant government dispute and revolving policy about the best way to engage our students in education. The delivery of ‘bilingual education’ in particular is regularly debated by government. Bilingual education refers to teaching people to read and write in their mother tongue or first language for the first few years and then switching to literacy and instruction in the national or mainstream language. Not everyone agrees with bilingual education. Some people believe Australian schools should be English-only all the way through.
Today, Australia’s schools, universities and technological colleges are developing courses that acknowledge us as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, just as Australia has embraced and respected the European and Asian cultures of immigrant Australians.
Indigenous Project Officer at University of Wollongong’s Faculty of Commerce, Jade Kennedy and children, at his graduation in 2007 Photo © Jade Kennedy.
Taris Wagilak, a student at Ramingining School in Arnhem Land, 2008. Photo © Polly Hemming.
Improving our children’s education.
Clontarf Casuarina Academy graduates celebrated their year 12 graduation in Darwin in 2011. The inaugural Northern Territory Leaving for Work Dinner was a celebration of the outstanding achievement of sixty four NT Clontarf Year 12 students in completing their Secondary School studies. Photo © Clontarf Foundation.