Bilingual Education Options
Mr GUYULA to MINISTER for ABORIGINAL AFFAIRS referred to MINISTER for EDUCATION
How will this government protect bilingual education options for Indigenous schools in line with article 14 of the United Nations Declarations of the Rights of Indigenous People?
Ms FYLES: A point of order, Madam Speaker! Would the question not be best asked of the Education minister? It is about bilingual education.
Madam SPEAKER: Acting Chief Minister, if you wish to refer it to another minister…
Mr Vowles: It was to me
Madam SPEAKER: It was to the Aboriginal Affairs minister? It is probably strictly with education but it is up to you, government.
Madam Speaker, I thank the Member for Nhulunbuy for such an important question. I would not want to give it the injustice as I do not know the intricacies of that portfolio so I will pass that over to the Minister for Education, if that is okay.
Ms LAWLER (Education): Thank you, Member for Nhulunbuy for the question. I agree it is an important question. In the Northern Territory there are nine government schools that deliver bilingual education programs and I am sure you are very well aware of those. In Arnhem it is Shepherdson College, Maningrida, Milingimbi, Numbulwar, and Yirrkala, one in Katherine which is Lajamanu and three in Alice Springs: Areyonga, Willowra and Yuendumu. These schools receive an additional $2.75m per year to support their bilingual programs.
The department has a coordinator and some of you, I am sure, know that person very well that provides support to these schools and ensures there is a consistent approach to the delivery of those bilingual programs.
In addition to these nine schools there is also more than 40 schools across the Territory that deliver an Indigenous language and culture program in 28 languages. We have the nine, more formal bilingual schools but across the Territory there are lots of our remote schools that also have Indigenous language and cultural programs so I know the Member for Arnhem understands that concept at Numbulwar as well.
In all of our remote schools we have Indigenous teacher assistants and they assist the teachers with the language and culture programs as well. The positive thing is under this government’s Community Lead Schools Initiative Indigenous people in remote communities will be empowered to make local decisions on the way they was to see education services delivered in their school.
Communities will have a say in the education outcomes they expect for their children so if in that community they want to have a focus on bilingual, two-way learning those are the things that those education boards, through the community lead school will be able to achieve.
Community lead schools will be supported with a ten year community education capacity building plan so the community members have the skills, knowledge and support to confidently make local decisions.
One further thing, there has been a discussion paper written called Keeping Indigenous Languages and Culture Strong. That discussion paper is with the Northern Territory board of studies at the moment. They are having a look at that paper and then will provide advice to me.