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Funding to support Centres of Indigenous Literacy

"Independent Indigenous schools are showing the way to improved literacy levels among their students and need to be supported in their efforts," the Australian Minister for Education, Training and Youth Affairs, Dr David Kemp said today.

Announcing $3 million would be provided to assist 1,200 Indigenous students from remote schools and colleges in Western Australia, South Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland, Dr Kemp said the funding would rapidly and measurably improve Indigenous students’ literacy skills.

The Programme, presently used by school staff in several schools in remote Central Australia, Alice Springs and Adelaide, has already demonstrated literacy gains for students in 1999 for both reading and writing skills

"There is an urgent need to increase efforts to close the literacy ‘gap’, particularly for Indigenous students in remote schools who are often unable to cope effectively with the wider school curriculum as a consequence of poor English literacy skills.

"It is vital that Indigenous students are supported to develop strong English literacy skills as an integral part of a curriculum which also includes the students’ own languages, their culture and aspirations," said Dr Kemp.

The programme will provide a range of teacher professional development, training and support activities to be delivered by staff from the Schools and Community Education Centre in the University of Canberra.

The programme will also provide comprehensive formal and on-site training and support to professional and para-professional staff in participating independent Indigenous schools and colleges, in Western Australia, South Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland. In addition it will support on-going research into Indigenous literacy pedagogy and teaching methodology at the University of Canberra.

The Programme recognises the need to provide structural support which allows continuous improvements in Indigenous literacy outcomes in the longer-term, particularly for Indigenous students in remote schools.

The programme will establish Centres of Indigenous Literacy Excellence at Yipirinya School in the Northern Territory, at Amata School in Central Australia and at the Wiltja Annex of Woodville High School in South Australia.

Media contact: Catherine Job (00612) 6277 7460

See also www.australia.org.nz


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