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Language and culture may be key to Indigenous education

Andrew Brown -

Indigenous children could have much greater educational outcomes if Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups are more closely involved.

First Nations elders, senior leaders and representatives will present a co-design strategy at Parliament House in Canberra on Wednesday.

Their report calls for for an Indigenous-led system to improve educational, employment and health outcomes, ensuring students don't fall behind.

Embracing First Nations knowledge, practice and culture could change the status quo, the delegates said.

The report was developed by more than 60 Indigenous educators and has recommended an approach with a greater focus on Indigenous languages and cultural practices.

"Governments want First Nations people to fit into a colonised, western education system that deliberately removed First Nations language, connection to country land and culture," the report said.

"Evidence shows that this system is not fit for purpose and is failing many First Nations children."

Among the six recommendations outlined in the report was the establishment of an Indigenous governing body to oversee the education system, as well as to set up a national network of Indigenous language centres for every language group

The latest Closing the Gap report showed Indigenous educational outcomes were not on track to reach the targeted goals by 2031.

Jane Vadiveloo, chief executive of Indigenous organisation Children's Ground, said a shake-up of education practices was needed.

"First Nations children educated in their first language and culture have improved learning outcomes, improved economic outcomes, improved health and wellbeing and increased engagement of family in their learning journey," she said.

"A First Nations designed and led learning system leads to positive outcomes for the individual, their community and beyond."

Australia was lagging behind other countries in Indigenous-led education systems, after New Zealand and Hawaii made changes to their processes for more culturally centred schooling, the report found.

Andrew Brown - AAP


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