Language and culture the hallmarks of new Aboriginal Education Strategy

Aboriginal language and developing a culturally inclusive curriculum have been identified as essential focus areas of the State Government’s new Aboriginal Education Strategy.

The 10-year strategy was designed in partnership with Professor Peter Buckskin, chairperson of the South Australian Aboriginal Education and Training Consultative Council (SAAETCC) and informed by consultation with Aboriginal students, families, communities and Education Department staff.

The strategy’s vision is that each Aboriginal child and young person is a proud and confident learner achieving at their highest potential.

Key initiatives include increased opportunities for children and young people to engage with Aboriginal languages and culture through observation and experience, as well as strengthened Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara language and cultural instruction in remote schools.

Detailed individual learning plans will also be developed for Aboriginal learners at all South Australian schools, supported by more training and resources being made available to advance the confidence and cultural awareness of staff.

Several key initiatives have already commenced with the expansion of the South Australian Aboriginal Sports Training Academy to engage more Aboriginal students in their learning, and the Workabout Centre which supports the transition from study of employment.

Earlier this year, the Government committed $2.75 million in funding over three years to support the Clontarf Foundation to establish four pilot academies in South Australia, aiming to harness students’ passion for Australian Rules Football to attract Aboriginal boys to school and keep them there.

Education Minister John Gardner said the strategy will provide a critical framework to help every Aboriginal children and young people achieve at their highest potential.

“This strategy is about sharpening our focus to ensure all Aboriginal children and young people are successful learners and highly skilled for their future,” said Minister Gardner.

“Aboriginal people have the right to access education that respects and promotes their right to enjoy and express their own culture and their own language.

“We are already seeing some schools incorporate Aboriginal culture into their maths and science subjects, and we are keen to see schools work together to expand this concept across the state.

“This strategy has been guided by extensive consultation, ensuring that Aboriginal children and their families are better connected and share a sense of ownership and responsibility for its implementation.

“Providing the right support for teachers to engage parents in the development of detailed learning plans, and to incorporate Aboriginal knowledge and culture in their learning, will help Aboriginal children and young people to be confident and successful learners in preschool, school and beyond.”

SAAETCC chairperson Professor Peter Buckskin said the strategy will provide a more explicit approach to the education and development of Aboriginal children and young people.

“Teachers need to understand what an Aboriginal child looks like today, their background and experiences, and have high expectations for their learning so they not only survive but thrive as an Aboriginal learner,” said Professor Buckskin.

“We want Aboriginal children to see themselves in the curriculum and the ways teachers teach, creating a culturally safe environment for that child to learn and feel like they belong in the classroom.

“Parents and caregivers of Aboriginal children and young people also need assistance understanding what they need to do to best support their child. Parents and care givers, principals and teachers must work together and develop a mutual understanding of what the child needs.”

The full Aboriginal Education Strategy can be downloaded at

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