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the importance of literacy « Previous | |Next »
January 21, 2007

Noel Pearson, in an op-ed in The Australian draws attention to a literacy crisis in remote Aboriginal communities. He says that the three most important aspects of the literacy crisis in his home region of Cape York Peninsula, are: Indigenous children are behind from the beginning of their schooling; they fall further behind while at school; they end up two to four years behind by the end of Year 7.

He says that this two to four-year gap makes it impossible for most students to go on to secondary school, further training and education and, ultimately, to a job and economic independence. He then adds:

The core problem in Cape York Peninsula, that indigenous children start from behind and then stay there or drop further behind, is caused by complex social problems in the communities and by shortcomings in government school policy. State and federal government agencies are working in partnership with Cape York Peninsula organisations to address these issues, but resolution of these structural problems will not arrive quickly. The long-term strategic policies that aim to improve community life and reform the regular delivery of education by the state education departments will not help the students who are enrolled in Cape York Peninsula schools this year.

He argues that we must respond quickly and efficiently to the emergency: that a large proportion, perhaps a majority, of indigenous children attending primary school in Cape York Peninsula are destined to be excluded from mainstream society and labour markets because they will be illiterate or semi-literate.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:08 AM |