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[from Felicity Meakins, 2009 ARC recipient]

The bad news about Australian languages continues with the announcement by the NT Minister for Education and Training, Marion Scrymgour of a NT schools restructure which will place the emphasis on English and will essentially wind back two-way education.
“... I’m ... announcing today that the first four hours of education in all Northern Territory schools will be conducted in English,” Ms Scrymgour said.
.....
"Ms Scrymgour said she recognised the requirement for all schools to teach all classes in English for the first four hours of each day would be contentious. I support preserving our Indigenous languages and culture – but our Indigenous children need to be given the best possible chance to learn English.”

This announcement follows the results from her Department's 2004-2005 Indigenous Languages and Culture in Northern Territory Schools [.pdf] report which showed positive outcomes for children taught in the two-way model.

How does it help children who don't understand English, to spend the first 4 hours of every day listening to English? Most NT schools are already English-only schools, and there's no sign that it improves children's written English more than in bilingual schools - indeed the evidence from Scrymgour's own department report is that the outcomes are marginally better in bilingual schools.

Consultation this year for the Regional Learning Partnerships between communities and schools also showed that most communities wanted language taught in the school either through two-way learning or an ILC (Indigenous Languages and Culture) program.

But it's not about research, results or education even, it is all about ideology as usual.

How about having a look at the 2004-2005 report, and the press release by the Minister for Education, and if you feel moved to send her informed agreement or disagreement, e-mail her at Marion.Scrymgour AT nt.gov.au.

Comments

as a teacher in a bi-lingual school I'm so frustrated by this government. Voters are upset by the poor educational outcomes of indigenous pressures- with good intentions they pressure politicians. In response our elected representatives feel that they have to find someone to blame, and so they have pointed the finger at bi-lingual schools. Our programme is not perfect, it could do with a lot of additional support, but at least it recognises the validity of indigenous language and culture. I have heard of Maori Universities which are taught entirely in language. This is where we should be aiming. If we are to keep these languages alive, and keep a strong sense of identity and empowerment in indigenous communities- local languages must be central in our teaching.

Hi, are we really in a post-colonial era? I think not. I fully support bi-lingual education. I live in a street called Kamilaroi (one of the NSW tribes) and its a real struggle for non-indigenous people to say and spell, so I reckon a bit of 'turning back the gaze' is needed. Imagine non-indigenous people having to say and spell a few place names. We will see how literacy attempts go then. LOL

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