Sunday, April 06, 2008

Changing some boundary conditions seems to offer possibilities on an intractable issue

The means to provide effective education to Australian Aboriginal children in an environment of community safety has been a long-term intractable problem. Two innovations which broaden the boundary around community - a shared residential facility with some parental access and an education that promotes aboriginal 'ways of being' seem to offer some new hope.

Now Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin is being congratulated on 'developing dormitory-style accommodation attached to some remote community schools and a residential facility at Weipa, near Cape York. It is claimed that her:

'observation that there is growing support for children to go to school outside of communities, and an understanding that there is "a world of difference" between removing children under past practices and giving them better opportunities in boarding colleges and hostels is soundly based'.

'Residential education is not the solution, and should not be used, as was pointed out at the September roundtable, to "let governments off the hook" of their responsibility to provide P-12 schooling in remote communities. For many indigenous young people, however, and in the short term, it is the only way to access quality education in a safe, supportive environment.

At the same time, boarding school education must be provided in the context of celebrating Aboriginality (encouraging pride, banishing shame) and promoting Aboriginal culture and ways of being.'

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