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Marion Scrymgour, who also holds the Education portfolio, yesterday warned parents that failing to send their children to school was illegal and that she would enforce penalties for those who failed to do so.
Ms Scrymgour, one of the most senior Aboriginal politicians in the country, will establish, “subject to negotiations”, two community partnership education boards, to be located in the Walpiri triangle in central Australia and selected communities in East Arnhem Land.
Ms Scrymgour’s plan to tackle what she admits is a crisis in remote education was delivered to Northern Territory parliament this week, with parental responsibility at the core of the Government’s attempts to improve the shocking literacy and numeracy outcomes among Aboriginal children in the Territory.
The community education partnership boards would place “core responsibility” for education on the shoulders of parents, encouraging “community ownership and management” of education and training services.
The boards would also be aimed at ensuring that all four-year-olds had access to 15 hours’ preschooling each week, and would increase enrolment and attendance, and literacy and numeracy competency, Ms Scrymgour said.
One of the things that I have been saying for a very long time is that the very poor attendance record of children in many indigenous communities is a sad example of a kind of reverse discrimination that has seen indigenous parents immune from any legal sanction for failing to ensure that their children attended school. I am happy to offer a tick of approval to Ms Scrymgour for her efforts to reverse that trend in the territory but I am amazed that the Council of Government School Organisations Michael Duffy should make this claim:
“Harping on attendance is to talk about a symptom,” council vice-president Michael Duffy told The Australian. “It’s not the cause of the crisis. The cause of the crisis is that remote education delivery has failed.”
What kind of idiot would suggest that children failing to attend school is “just a symptom” with out actually being in classes(even poorly resourced ones ) any meaningful education is actually impossible . It may not be the ONLY cause of the crisis but it has to be up there in the top three, along with the emphasis on teaching in languages other than English and offering a second rate syllabus.