Mr GUYULA to MINISTER for EDUCATION
The Bruce Wilson report on Indigenous education did not consider bilingual programs in its perimeters of investigation. This is despite the United Nations identifying the absence of mother tongue instruction as one of the most relevant causes of poor attendance. The other issues are conflict or war, child labour, gender and poverty. When will the Wilson report be reviewed?
Madam Speaker, I thank the Member for Nhulunbuy for the question. It is very timely. The very short answer is that it being reviewed now. The Indigenous education strategy was always going to be cyclical. It is a key position now to be reviewed.
Like you, there are a number of things in the original report that I do not necessarily agree with 100%, such as secondary education and education on homelands. I am a firm believer in families having choice in educating their children in their home communities.
On the issue of bilingual education, there is a number of points I would like to make. There continues to be nine schools that are fully funded in the bilingual model. Yirrkala school is one of them. That is about those schools having a choice.
This government is talking about community-led schools and schools having a say in the programs they run. For too long we, the Education department and us in government, have been telling communities how we want schools to run and what programs we want them to run. Now is the time to turn that around and have the communities have a say about the education provision of programs in their schools.
There are schools that do want bilingual programs. Yirrkala is one of them. In the homelands there is a focus on both ways. To be clear about that, there is a step bilingual program, a very formal program, of 10% in English and 90% in language in Transition and Year 1, moving to 20%/80%, then 30%/70%. That is the formal step bilingual approach we see in those nine schools.
But probably all of our remote community schools have some sort of bilingual approach. I prefer to call that a two-way model, where they have the Indigenous teacher assistants and the non-Indigenous teachers working together in the classrooms. New concepts introduced by the teacher, who, more often than not, is non-Indigenous. The teacher can say the new maths concepts and the Indigenous teacher assistant can translate and make sure the children understand. The instructions go to the students in language. Although there are only nine formal bilingual schools, all schools in our remote communities have the additional support of Indigenous teacher assistants.
Member for Nhulunbuy, I hear loudly and clearly from you the importance of the communities having a say. I am a firm supporter of schools and communities having a say in the direction and programs they want if they will get kids to schools and make sure they are learning.
See Connecting Question At Blog Post 14/02/17 - Double Punishment under NT and Federal Truancy Laws.