and Remote Education - WA
Meeting at Kimberley Land
Council, Derby, 19 May 1999 - notes
The Kimberley Land
Council is situated in Derby. The KLC made a formal appearance at the
Inquiry's hearing in Broome. This meeting was organised by the KLC for
Olive Knight prepared
comments entitled "Educational Needs of Children". Some of the main points
raised in that paper include
- The need for appropriately
trained teachers in Aboriginal education. Suggests a need to have incentives
to attract mature experienced teachers to go to Aboriginal schools.
- Aboriginal children
are missing out on some basic skills. Is there a need for more 'chalk
and talk' basics?
- Aboriginal children
are used to learning from elders in groups, and individual one on one
instruction is barely used.
- Research shows
that teaching language in preschools helps with retention rates. Some
children have English as not as a second but a third language. There
should be Aboriginal language proficient teachers at least up to high
- Is the school
day appropriate? It might be more worthwhile to have a condensed day
of 7am to 1pm rather than 9am to 3pm or 8am to 2pm.
- Are week in weekend
out systems inappropriate for Aboriginal children or would a three week
in and one week out system work better?
- The need for cultural
training of teachers before they are sent out to a school. A new teacher
should be taught the history of the area, the uniqueness of language
and people, proper behaviour, address techniques and socially approved
and disapproved practices.
There should be recognition
of the cultural and aspirational diversity of the State, not a blanket
Aboriginal policy that could be counterproductive.
government leaders must realise that they do not have a monopoly on wisdom."
The state school
in Derby imparts a sense of personal confidence and friendliness to students
but does not have high academic expectations of students. Many families
relocate their whole lives for the children's secondary education.
The retention rate
for students across the Kimberley for non-Aboriginal students is only
about 21% to Year 12. There is a sudden decline after Year 10. For Aboriginal
students retention rates are about 11%. For Aboriginal students the decline
starts after Year 7. Attendance rates are perhaps even worse than retention
Leaving town for
a secondary education
Because the secondary
education in Derby is not seen as high quality, some students leave to
study elsewhere. The only real choice is Perth. However, children from
Derby or more isolated places are 'totally lost' in Perth. Students need
to be fully supported when they attend secondary school in Perth. In order
to do this whole families leave town, leaving behind friends, family and
When one young student
herself decided that she wanted to go down south to Perth to attend high
school, the mother had to leave work and travel with her daughter to find
a school that was going to support her.
There is a bit of
an attitude that students will not be able to make it right through secondary
"My daughter nearly
didn't make it. But it was only because of my personal resources and the
culture and background that I was able to provide that for her, but that
did include family support."
"It goes beyond technical
teaching or family support. It's almost an attitude to be combined with
an awareness of the context of where students are coming from."
It was suggested
that there be secondary education alternatives which are closer to home
than Perth and which can provide an on-site supportive environment, similar
to Notre Dame University. Perth is too far away. There should be somewhere
in the Kimberley. Clontarf College in Perth is beginning to cater for
the specific cultural needs of the Aboriginal students who attend.
to understand non-standard English
Teachers need to
have cultural training and training in Aboriginal dialects. One woman
commented on her daughter's early education.
"When she first started
education her first language was a Kriol. By then she understood Standard
English very fluently but her sound system was not Standard English. So
she went to a school in Broome and was taught a particular style of phonics
and my sense was that right from the start there was a sense of failure
of what happened to her and her education. A lack of awareness of where
she was coming from."
in the school
"What for me has
always made a difference working in independent community schools was
when a community was part of the school and involved in the school there
would be 100% attendance and there truly would be. But when the community
was going through a bad time and were away a lot, then the attendance
"Schools that seem
to work the best are the smallest one's, especially the outlying remote
ones with a high student teacher ratio. But its expensive...What does
seem to make a difference is the connection of the teachers with the pupils
and the community."
Teaching out of
the classroom setting
"More education could
be brought out of school and more education could be provided in people's
workplaces or whatever they are doing. This goes across the board. People
are motivated when they see a purpose in it. Often it's in that school
context for Indigenous or even non-Indigenous students, effective learning
could take place in an office or out mending fences if it was tied to
people with good teaching skills."
This would be especially
good for young men who need to get away from school. This should be a
whole approach to way that you learn and develop.
There was discussion
about introducing opportunities for real work for young people on a part
time basis. They could learn some vocational skills and apply what they
learn at school. This stimulates them to look at career options and makes
updated 2 December 2001.