From Cuba with Love – a literacy program in regional/remote Australian communities

‘From Cuba with Love’, Sydney Morning Herald, July 19, 2014. Available here:

I came upon this article during my coffee and the Good Weekend quiz Saturday morning ritual, back in July. It’s pertinent to two units I’m studying this trimester, LING 366 and EDUC 403 – Teaching for Cultural Diversity. And, of course, it involves the work of UNE’s own, Associate Professor Bob Boughton.

From Cuba with Love

Life skills: Student Hogan Shillingsworth. Photo: Edwina Pickles Read more:

The ‘Yes I Can’ literacy program comes from Cuba. During the Cuban Revolution in the early 1960s, the education system was ‘shut down for a year, sending urban students to spread literacy among the rural poor’. Cuba now has a 100% adult literacy rate. This shows that literacy, and education more broadly, is the responsibility of the community and not just the individual.

According to the article, 65% of Aboriginal people are ‘functionally illiterate’. Hogan Shillingsworth, 21, was granted bail on the proviso that he attend literacy classes. He was in trouble with the law due to traffic violations. As the article explains, illiteracy contributes greatly to traffic violations. If a person can’t read and comprehend the online driving tests, they won’t be able to get a licence. But circumstances (like in Nancy’s case in topic 11) may lead to unlicensed driving, further offences, and eventually incarceration.

While it doesn’t exactly discuss an Indigenous Australian language, this article touches on many of the issues covered throughout this unit, especially Aboriginals and the law, education and literacy. There are aspects of Aboriginal English in some of the quotes included, as well as representations of the strong family ties within the community.


Kate Mitchell, LING 366. Trimester 2, 2014.

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