« Where have all the old blogs gone? | Blog home | HCSNet Summer School 2006 »

business learning training articles new learning business training opportunities finance learning training deposit money learning making training art loan learning training deposits make learning your training home good income learning outcome training issue medicine learning training drugs market learning money training trends self learning roof training repairing market learning training online secure skin learning training tools wedding learning training jewellery newspaper learning for training magazine geo learning training places business learning training design Car learning and training Jips production learning training business ladies learning cosmetics training sector sport learning and training fat burn vat learning insurance training price fitness learning training program furniture learning at training home which learning insurance training firms new learning devoloping training technology healthy learning training nutrition dress learning training up company learning training income insurance learning and training life dream learning training home create learning new training business individual learning loan training form cooking learning training ingredients which learning firms training is good choosing learning most training efficient business comment learning on training goods technology learning training business secret learning of training business company learning training redirects credits learning in training business guide learning for training business cheap learning insurance training tips selling learning training abroad protein learning training diets improve learning your training home security learning training importance

There was an engaging documentary Bush School on SBS tonight, about Warrego School in a ghost mining town out of Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory. It started a few years ago with eleven Warlmanpa children from the Mangarlawurru [Mungalawurru] Aboriginal community travelling 80 km each day to get to there. They're still going, singing their lessons in the bus. They attend 100% of the time, achieve national benchmarks in English literacy and numeracy, focus on horse-riding and swimming. The school is working hard to combat the hearing loss that most of the kids suffer from (ear infections have meant that several of the children have hearing aids). And they've sent one of their brightest students to study at a private girls school in New South Wales.

It's required amazing energy, determination and interesting ideas from the non-Indigenous teachers, Sandra and Colin Baker, who are the centre of the doco. But it has also taken phenomenal dedication on the part of the small and determined Warlmanpa community at Mangarlawurru, who look after the kids and support this school - the grandparents and great grand parents, Eva Napanangka Kelly, Marie Napanangka Rennie and Colin Japaljarri Freddie. They are determined to raise their families away from the alcohol and despair of the local town. And undoubtedly the presence of the Bakers, even 40 km away, and the schooling, transport and opportunities they provide, have made it easier for Mangarlawurru community to keep going.

BUT - the downside - there are no natural successors to the Bakers at the school. There don't seem to be any Indigenous teacher trainees in the school, even though the Northern Territory has a tertiary college which trains Indigenous teachers. The kids deserve a decent education when the Bakers retire, and teaching Indigenous kids shouldn't require the 24/7 that the Bakers put into it. Nor should secondary education for Indigenous kids require them to get scholarships to private schools thousands of kilometres away.

And as for language - well, a handful of Warlmanpa families (including those at Mangarlawurru) have been tenaciously hanging onto their language against all the odds. But language doesn't get much of a look in, in the doco - in fact I didn't hear the word 'Warlmanpa'. Just once in the program Marie got in a couple of sentences about how she and Eva were teaching the children 'language', the names of bush foods. One Warlmanpa word was nganjawarli 'bush tomato'.

So, watch 'Bush School'; it's an endearing picture. But don't take it as THE model for Indigenous education, because Bakers and Evas and Maries and Colins are rare, and the combination is even rarer.



UPDATE: there's a web forum about this on SBS, showing how many viewers were touched by the program, and want to help. The Bakers have also answered lots of questions from the forum participants. Here's an answer to a question raised in this post:
"We have sent most of our grade sixs to NT secondary schools, day and boarding and have been impressed with the programmes and the staffs. The fact that children have not stuck has been no fault of the schools and some of the students have been our best performers. The reasons for our lack of success at transfere to secondary school in the NT are to be sought in some very complex sociology. "
And finally - from the Bakers:
"All donations for the school are managed, at no cost to the school, by the Trust for Young Australians. Warrego School Acc, 5 St. Vincent Place Albert Park Vic. 3206.
All donations are tax deductable and all monies received by the trust go to the school or nominated student. \"

The vines pony club is located in sydney nsw. We would like to help the kids
from the Warrego PS with their horsemanship programme. I would like to get in touch with the Bakers however the phone number that i have been given isn't working . I would love the Bakers to get in contact with us, so we could see what we could arrange. E-mail michelledobson25@hotmail.com for the contact number.

Thanks for the comment. I don't have a contact for the Bakers, but the
e-mail address on the web forum on SBS after the showing of the
documentary is:

If that doesn't work, my suggestion is to try the Regional Superintendant
of the Barkly Region of the Northern Territory Education Department -
which would be listed in the NT Phone directory.

And a very sad footnote to the program. A few weeks ago, there was a terrible carcrash involving the parents of Latanzia, the young girl who went to boarding school in Armidale. Her father was killed and her mother suffered serious spinal injuries.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Enter the code shown below before pressing post

The Authors

About the Blog

The Transient Building, symbolising the impermanence of language, houses both the Linguistics Department at Sydney University and PARADISEC, a digital archive for endangered Pacific languages and music.


Papua New Guinea FAQs from Eva Lindstrom Papua New Guinea (New Ireland): Eva Lindstrom's tips for fieldworkers

Australian Languages Answers to some frequently asked questions about Australian languages

Papua Web Information network on Papua, Indonesia (formerly Irian Jaya)

Hibernating blogs

Indigenous Language SPEAK

Langguj gel Australian linguistics and fieldwork blog

Interesting Blogs

Omniglot Writing systems and languages of the world

LingFormant Linguistics news

Language hat Linguistics news and commentary

Jabal al-Lughat Linguistics news and commentary on a range of languages

Living languages Blog with news items and discussion of endangered languages

OzPapersOnline Notices of recent work on the Indigenous languages of Australia

That Munanga linguist Community linguist blog

Anggarrgoon Claire Bowern's linguistics and fieldwork blog

Savage Minds A group blog on Anthropology

Fully (sic)

Language on the Move Intercultural communication and multilingualism

Talking Alaska: Reflections on the native languages of Alaska

Culture matters: applying anthropology Australian anthropology blog: postgraduates and staff

Long Road ethnography and anthropology blog - including about Australia

matjjin-nehen Blog on Australian linguistics, fieldwork, politics and the environment.

Language Log Group blog on language and linguistics


E-MELD The E-MELD School of Best Practices in Digital Language Documentation

Tema Modersmål Website in Swedish with links to sites on and in many languages

Hans Rausing Endangered Languages Project: Language Documentation: What is it? Information on equipment, formats, and archiving, and examples of documentation

Indigenous Peoples Issues & Resources a worldwide network of organizations, academics, activists, indigenous groups, and others representing indigenous and tribal peoples

Technorati Profile

Technology-enhanced language revitalization Include ILAT (Indigenous Languages and Technology) discussion list.

Endangered languages of Indigenous Peoples of Siberia

Koryak Net Information on the people of Kamchatka

Linguistic fieldwork preparation: a guide for field linguists syllabi, funding, technology, ethics, readings, bibliography

On-line resources for endangered languages

Papua New Guinea Language Resources Phonologies, grammars, dictionaries, literacy, language maps for many PNG languages

Resource network for linguistic diversity Networking practitioners working to record,retrieve & reintroduce endangered languages


ACLA child language acquisition in three Australian Aboriginal communities

DELAMAN The Digital Endangered Languages and Musics Archives Network

PARADISEC The Pacific And Regional Archive for Digital Sources in Endangered Cultures

Murriny-Patha Song Project Documenting the language and music of public songs and dances composed and performed by Murriny Patha-speaking people

PFED The Project for Free Electronic Dictionaries

DOBES Endangered language documentation and archiving, funded by the Volkswagen Foundation and sponsored by the Max Planck Institute, Nijmegen.

DELP Documenting endangered languages at the University of Sydney

Ethno EResearch Exploring methods and technology for streaming media and interlinear text