Updates - The use of Aboriginal languages in NT schools

Last updated: 9 April 2014

Background to the use of Aboriginal languages in NT schools (bilingual education)
Main Contents Page:

UPDATES (11 JULY 2012 - 9 APRIL 2014):

- Analysis / Opinion

Fully (sic) - Crikey's language blog:
Ngurrju! Manymak! Pupuni! NT drops First Four Hours in English policy
by Greg Dickson
11 Jul 12: "It’s been three and a half rather long years, but the Northern Territory Department of Education and Training (NT DET) appears to have finally dropped their much-criticised policy of Compulsory Teaching in English for the First Four Hours of Each School Day. Checking the department’s policies today, it seems to have been quietly removed. As one of the many who criticised and lobbied against this policy, this is gratifying news and I can only hope it’s a permanent move."

- Interview with Marion Scrymgour

Country Liberals: Labor's education policy
19 Jul 12: "Marion Scrymgour: I have come out very clearly saying what I got wrong and what I got wrong was saying that kids will only be speaking English in the first four hours of school and that was wrong to say that because the reality in most remote aboriginal communities the aboriginal language whatever is the first language would be used as a vehicle for instruction for English that was always what the transforming indigenous education policy was all about. ... English, English, English only was a huge mistake of mine and I’ve admitted that and I’ve moved on."

- Analysis / Opinion

Indymedia Australia: NT covertly drops 'the first 4 hours of each day English only' policy
13 Aug 12: " ... the NT Department of Education and Training have removed ‘the first 4 hours of each day English only’ phrase from their literacy policy ... However on its own this is not enough. It simply says we are not going to ban the use of Indigenous Languages at this important teaching time of the day but It does nothing to support and encourage the use of the children’s first languages in an academic context. For example if you are to develop literacy in the children’s mother tongue you need to be continually training new teachers and involving all such staff in appropriate professional development. ... " By Rosa McKenna

- Analysis / Opinion

Jarvis Ryan: Bilingual education needs to be extended, not scrapped
20 Feb 14: "The release of the draft report of the NT government’s review of Indigenous education has generated a lot of alarm in remote Indigenous communities. Yet again Aboriginal people have been singled out for treatment that no one would even contemplate proposing for other social groups - specifically, closing remote education centres and forcing all secondary age children to go away to boarding school, which a former student of mine said reminded her of the sort of thing that went on with the Stolen Generations. ... "

- Analysis / Opinion

Green Left: NT gov't to further cut bilingual education
by Emma Murphy & Peter Robson
14 Feb 14: "If the report’s recommendations are indicative of government intent, education for remote Aboriginal children in the NT looks set to suffer more blows. ... Disappointingly, however, the February 7 draft report recommends a shift further away from the successful bilingual systems of the past. The executive summary says: "The review does not support the continued efforts to use biliteracy approaches, or to teach the content of the curriculum through first languages other than English." ... The review comes in the context of mounting attacks on the public education sector." By GLW authors Emma Murphy & Peter Robson, Darwin

- Compilation

WGAR News: Some vital signs for Aboriginal languages: Michael Christie, Brian Devlin & Cathy Bow, The Conversation (9 Apr 14)
* Michael Christie, Brian Devlin & Cathy Bow, The Conversation: Some vital signs for Aboriginal languages
* Brian Devlin, Snippets: Will Aboriginal languages still have a role in school learning?
* Living Archive of Aboriginal Languages (LAAL)
* Background to the use of Aboriginal languages in NT schools (bilingual learning)"

- Compilation

WGAR News: Responses to the DRAFT report of the Indigenous Education Review for the NT Government: FOBL (25 Mar 14)
* FOBL (Friends of Bilingual Learning): Responses to the DRAFT report of the Indigenous Education Review for the Northern Territory Government
* FOBL (Friends of Bilingual Learning): National Indigenous Languages Survey 2 (NILS2)
* FOBL (Friends of Bilingual Learning): DRAFT Report of the Review of Indigenous Education in the Northern Territory
* Why FOBL Matters
* SKrashen: Strongest evidence so far in support of bilingual education
* Background to the use of Aboriginal languages in NT schools (bilingual education)"

- News

National Indigenous Radio Service: Media coverage influences Indigenous policy: Report
5 Dec 12: "A new report shows media coverage of Indigenous issues can influence the way Indigenous affairs policies are developed, communicated and implemented. ... One of the chief investigators of the report, Dr. Kerry McCallum from the University of Canberra, says public discussion of Indigenous policy is often poor and often doesn't lead to good policy outcomes. She says one example was in 2008, where after intense media coverage of the Northern Territory's poor NAPLAN results, the government announced a controversial policy change - a greater focus on teaching English in the Territory's schools, which resulted in the demise of bilingual programs."

ABC: NZ group says NT Indigenous education decades behind
5 Nov 12: "The head of a New Zealand parliamentary committee says Australia is lagging behind in its education of Indigenous children. The Maori Select Parliamentary Committee has been touring central Australia. The group is comparing the treatment of Indigenous children with Maori children in New Zealand. Committee chairman Parekura Horomia says he is shocked by the lack of bilingual education in central Australia. He says combining western and traditional languages through education is a staple in New Zealand."

newsTracker: NT government quietly abandons bilingual ban
15 Aug 12: "NORTHERN TERRITORY: The Northern Territory government appears to have relaxed its controversial Compulsory Teaching in English for the First Four Hours of Each School Day policy, introduced in 2008 and seen as the end of bilingual education for Aboriginal children. The policy restricted teaching in home languages to the last few teaching hours, when children are generally tired and inattentive. It was announced in 2008 by then Education minister Marion Scrymgour, and prompted an immediate outcry from Aboriginal and human rights organisations." By Emma Murphy, works with Yolngu people in Darwin and across North East Arnhem Land, a former editor of the Green Left Weekly

ABC Darwin: Bilingual education policy relaxed for bush schools
19 Jul 12: "The Government's policy on teaching English in bush schools has been relaxed, after years of outcry and evidence teachers in remote communities have been ignoring the policy anyway. The Australian Education Union NT president Matthew Cranitch said communities were shunning the Government's policy of teaching in English only for the first four hours of classes. He said the policy, introduced in 2008, was widely opposed and the AEU lobbied against its introduction, arguing literacy outcomes were stronger when built on proficiency in a local language."

National Indigenous Radio Service: 'First Four Hours' policy change welcomed
17 Jul 12: "The Northern Territory Education Department has introduced amendments to the 'English for the First Four Hours' policy in schools. The policy has been replaced it with it's 'Framework for Learning English as an Additional Language', which recognises the need for a more culturally-appropriate education system. ... Dr. Florey [Senior Linguist with the Resource Network for Linguistic Diversity] says a bilingual schooling system would improve literacy and numeracy and the 'First Four Hours' policy had its share of problems."

- Media Release

Greens Senator Penny Wright: Greens to boost Indigenous language learning in schools
2 Sep 13: "Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Issues / Schools & Education
The Australian Greens will commit $30 million to expand the teaching and learning of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages, schools spokesperson Senator Penny Wright and NT Greens Senate candidate Warren H. Williams announced today.
Ahead of National Indigenous Literacy Day on Wednesday, Mr Williams said Australia risked losing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages without a more concerted effort in schools.
"Although there are more than 250 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages spoken in Australia, there are only around 80 different Indigenous languages taught in Australian schools," he said.
"The Greens support our right to speak, use and revitalise Indigenous languages and our right to speak and learn our languages in schools.
"These programs should be properly funded to give our kids a good education, and to support healthy lives and jobs in the bush." ... "

- - -

About WGAR News:


- - -

WGAR: Working Group for Aboriginal Rights (Australia)