Missing out on basic rights is not right…

Last week my kids were doing the NAPLAN tests at school, and I found the attached flyer in the bottom of their school bags (hence the reason it’s so crinkled). It struck me, that in a developed country such as Australia, literacy should be an issue. It is easy to forget, living in comfort on the eastern sea board, that much of the indegenous population in the far north are living in poverty; and children missing out on such a basic human right as literacy.


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2 Responses to Missing out on basic rights is not right…

  1. Alexander Dietz says:

    Yes, literacy is a basic skill. To have it is part of human rights. However, literacy in both the country’s working language and your heritage language is one human right.

  2. wamut says:

    Ugh. Foundations like the “Aboriginal Literacy Foundation” make me kind of angry. They are full of talk that makes out Aboriginal kids to be deficient (that flyer you link to is a great example). They are not deficient, just because they struggle with English and English literacy. They already have an adequate way of talking and communicating, it’s just that it often doesn’t fit nicely in with the way western education works. For example, last week’s NAPLAN tests assessed Year 3 students’ writing skills by getting them to produce a piece of “persuasive writing”. They expected Aboriginal kids (many who speak a language other than English) to not just display English writing skills but through a genre that is embedded within Western culture. The kids were set up to fail. A teacher I spoke to in a remote NT school said her top students who *can* read and write failed just as badly as the poorest writers in her class because (a) they didn’t understand what was expected of them, (b) the teachers aren’t allowed to offer them any useful help and (c) it’s a question asks them to perform in a genre they are culturally not familiar with/used to.

    Foundations like the “Aboriginal Literacy Foundation” do not seem to acknowledge that many Aboriginal kids can and will learn to be literate much faster in their own language. (Research shows that once literacy is acquired in one language e.g. an Aboriginal kids’ mother tongue, those skills are more easily transferred to a second or foreign language, e.g. English). They don’t really acknowledge all the wonderful skills and knowledge that Aboriginal kids bring to classrooms. They seem to about making well-off urban Australians feel good about themselves by donating money to a worthy cause. Note all the glossy “bright young black faces” they use in their promotional materials? I cringe when I think that there are some people sitting in capital cities patting themselves on the back because their money is going towards sending some English books to the ‘poor, struggling natives’.

    And, like was noted in a previous post, it’s annoying that the terms “Indigenous literacy” and “Aboriginal literacy” are used not to mean “literacy in Indigenous or Aboriginal languages” but rather “English literacy for Indigenous or Aboriginal people”.

    Phew. Okay. Glad I got that off my chest… I’m sure these foundations (the three I know of are ANLF, Indigenous Literacy Foundation and Aboriginal Literacy Foundation) have their hearts in the right places and do some good work but for the reasons outlined above, I hesitate to support them.

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