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Bilingual Education in the Northern Territory: Principles, policy and practice

AIATSIS Research Symposium

Date: Friday, 26 June 2009
Venue: Visions Theatre, National Museum of Australia, Canberra
Time: 9:00am – 5:15pm, followed by a reception at AIATSIS

At the start of the 2010 school year, the number of hours of bilingual teaching in Northern Territory Two-Way schools is set to decrease by more than half. The public debate that followed the announcement of this policy change revealed a need for further research on the models, achievements and challenges of bilingual education in Indigenous communities. Acknowledging this research gap and recognising that the new policy represents a significant shift in educational practice, AIATSIS will hold a one day symposium to debate and discuss the policy change and its implications. Issues to be discussed include: the historical role of bilingual education; the status of research into its efficacy and practice; implications of the policy change; and bilingualism and language rights.

The symposium will bring together Australia's leading experts in bilingual education and practitioners in Northern Territory Indigenous schools. Bilingual educators, linguists, educationalists, policy makers and prominent Indigenous specialists have been invited to deliver presentations in response to this recent policy initiative, thus providing a timely forum for debate.

Confirmed speakers include:

Mr. Tom Calma, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner and Race Discrimination Commissioner
Prof. Joseph Lo Bianco, University of Melbourne
Dr. Jane Simpson, Universtiy of Sydney
Dr. Patrick McConvell, Australian National University
Dr. Josephine Caffery, Australian Catholic University
Dr. Brian Devlin, Charles Darwin University
Representatives from Northern Territory communities affected by the recent policy change in the NT.

Interested parties are welcome to register to attend. The registration fee is $80, which includes catering for lunch, morning and afternoon teas, and the evening reception at AIATSIS. Places are limited, so please register as soon as possible.

Further information and registration information please visit the news section of the AIATSIS website.


And further to this, the person who signed off on the dismantling of bilingual education in the Northern Territory, Marion Scrymgour, now regrets her decision.

"She said she also regretted her stance on bilingual education in remote areas."

Good that she does, but what will her regret change?

Well it's nice that she regrets it but now she is participating in the defunding of outstations which are important to language and culture maintenance. So she is complicit to the NT's latest attack on language and culture.

She can also undo the dismantling of the bilingual programs and take some notice of the regional partnership agreements her government wrote up with communities last year. I'm out at Kalkaringi at the mo and people here are still hoping in vain for a bilingual program.

Is there any word that a UN representative or three will be present? speak?
Is there a possibility that the UN rep in Australia could open the symposium? there by locating the symposium firmly within the commitments recently given to the UN by Rudd?
Malarndirri is now assisting the NT Minister with the Education portfolio, and has BL schools in her electorate. It would be disappointing if she was unable to attend or send reps.
Delia Lawrie (NT Treasurer) tonight showed the attitude of her party on Stateline with words similar to; 'it is racist for Indigenous peoples to call for bilingual schooling, because all students should receive the same schooling".

John great ideas but might be a bit late as program seems to be set. Good on AIATSIS for hosting this Symposium anyway. I think it's been tricky for them to not look overtly political so I don't think they've been targeting politicians, but certainly they're hoping to get the ears of policy makers and bureaucrats.

Delia's comments are ridiculous. They can easily be turned on their head by saying 'all Territorians should receive the same schooling, that is, in their first language, therefore, re-introduce bilingual education'. To me, inequality is present in the fact that we have so many Indigenous language speaking students forced to learn in a second language, but all white, English-speaking students get to learn in their home language. How fair is that?

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