Improvements in Indigenous education will require significant injections of money. As the Gonski report noted, many Indigenous children experience multiple and deeper forms of disadvantage than other groups. Previous targeted programs from states, territories and the Commonwealth have not provided the necessary funding, nor the flexibility and stability of funding, which are required to reverse more than 200 years of colonial treatment.
However, money alone will not make the difference needed.
“Our children perform well at school when the connections between families, home and school are strong, when quality teachers are in front of classes, when curriculum is culturally relevant and inclusive, and when school infrastructure and resources are tailored to local circumstances.”
For remote and regional schools with large numbers of Indigenous students, high teacher turnover, an over-representation of inexperienced teachers, lack of familiarity with Indigenous languages and cultural protocols, and lack of Indigenous teachers all add to the problem of culturally irrelevant curriculum and teaching methods.
Payika College principal John Brookshaw
(image: Swan Hill Guardian)
Payika College principal John Brookshaw said he welcomed the independent review of four Koorie school review, and potential changes it might trigger, because the current model disadvantaged younger children in the community who could have been enrolled in the previous program, which was open to students from prep to Year 12.
Mr Brookshaw said he hoped the review would result in positive changes to the program, but warned the State Government against closing the doors of the local college.
Ballerrt Mooroop College in Glenroy, which had the highest average attendance of the schools at 64 per cent, was closed earlier this year after the number of students enrolled dwindled to a dismal figure of one, at a cost of more than $1 million a year.
Payika College student Laura Moore, Swan Hill Aboriginal Education Consultative Group chair Stephanie Charles and Year 11 student Stephanie Jackson are rallying to ensure the college remains open. (image: The Guardian)
Payika Koori College, Swan Hill Victoria.
'SOS - Save our Schools' traveled to the Aboriginal Tent Embassy over the 'June' long weekend to visit the sacred fire and bring their struggle to the Embassy as is our custom, our way.
Forty Years stronger in 2012, yet we are still fighting for basic education - they want to close a school, they say it costs too much per student - why?
Because they compare costs like apples and oranges instead of valuing the person and culture ...
A meeting by the Ballerrt Mooroop College Support Group representatives in the college cultural area on Sunday 22nd April 2012.
A motion of 'No Confidence' in the BMC Principal, Megan Lewis, for failing to consult and negotiate with the Community about the future of the school was passed by consensus. Many at the meeting felt they were betrayed by her appointment and failure to deal with important Indigenous education issues.
Decisions were also made to retain the site for our people and establish a 'Community Hub' as developed in the Master Plan which is to be pursued with the Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Inc. (VAEAI) and the Minister of Education (The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development - DEECD).
Barbara Williams-Weston at the College in Glenroy
(Aaron Francis Source: The Australian)
Forced to share its grounds with a special school for disabled students, Ballerrt Mooroop began this year with two students, which quickly became one. After several weeks, the sole remaining student was removed to another school.
According to Aboriginal activist Barbara Williams, the boy "was happy with the school and when he was told it was closing, he was crying his heart out".
But the Victorian Education Department says Aboriginal people have voted with their feet, enrolling their children in mainstream schools. There are almost 1200 indigenous students in Melbourne's north.
Activist Gary Murray said Ballerrt Mooroop had been allowed to become a "poor black school that takes in naughty black kids".
Ballerrt Mooroop College Protest - January 2011
In a recent 2012 Media Realease by the Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Inc. (VAEAI) they put forward a recommendation that any proposed review of the Koorie Pathways School model be conducted in meaningful consultation with the relevant local Koorie community, and take into consideration alternate models of schooling with a strong focus placed on early years learning support and engagement.
The association wrote that in light of the recent de-staffing and proposed review of the Glenroy Koorie Pathways School in the Northern Metropolitan Region, the Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Inc. (VAEAI) advocate the need for further consideration to be undertaken into alternative schooling models that are best suited to local needs and educational outcomes for Koorie students in Victoria.