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New book addresses Indigenous education

Thursday, 29 March 2012

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Just 30 per cent of Indigenous students are completing Year 12 – compared to 76 per cent of non-Indigenous students – a rate that has increased by just three per cent in the past 10 years.

This data is among the new findings in a revised book on Aboriginal education by Edith Cowan University academics Professor Quentin Beresford, Professor Gary Partington and Mr Graeme Gower.

In the book Reform and Resistance in Aboriginal Education, the editors found that high profile strategies such as Closing the Gap, Shared Responsibility Agreement and the Northern Territory Intervention were not impacting sufficiently on closing the educational gap between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Australians.

“Data collected for this book showed stark on-going discrepancies in the educational performance of Aboriginal young people and the slow rate at which the educational gap is closing,” said Professor Partington.

Failure for Aboriginal young people to obtain an education has profound ramifications for individual Indigenous young people, Indigenous communities and society at large.

“Alienated Indigenous young people are highly vulnerable to entering the revolving door of the justice system, in face half of all young people in detention are Indigenous,” said Professor Beresford.

Reform and Resistance in Aboriginal Education examines the underlying factors that combine to make school an alienating experience for many Indigenous students. These include:

  • Family life;
  • Language barriers;
  • Ill-health;
  • High rates of crime; and
  • Classroom relationships.

“Approaches to Indigenous education must address the interacting nature of these underlying factors,” said Professor Beresford.

“Teaching staff need to develop strong cultural awareness to underpin their interactions with Indigenous students and their communities,” said Mr Gower.

“The future health of indigenous communities, together with Australia’s human rights reputation, depends on further substantial improvements in educational outcomes for Indigenous young people,” said Professor Beresford, Professor Partington and Mr Gower.

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