October 29, 2008

What is bilingual education?

This thing that came from the Education Minister about having the first four hours of schooling delivered in English has got me really wound up. (Apologies to those who don't want to hear me go on about political stuff again, but I'm seriously on the bandwagon... I'll chill out one day). One thing that winds me up is that when most people hear the new policy they go 'oh great, of course that will improve English outcomes... why have we been stuffing around with Bilingual education'? Too many people I've spoken to over the past few days just haven't understood what the point of Bilingual education is. I've taken it for granted that people know what it is and what it's for. It's not about teaching Indigenous language at the expense of English.

A really nice summary of Bilingual Education is found on good old Wikipedia. If you or anyone you know doesn't quite know what Bilingual Education education is about, point them here. Just that simple explanation makes Marion Scrymgour's plan for improving litearcy outcomes look pedagogically flawed and misguided (not to mention just plain mean to those communities who have invested in their bilingual programs).

October 28, 2008

Bad and ridiculous news from the NT Minister for Education

Anyone involved in NT Education or Aboriginal languages has probably heard this already, but a couple of weeks ago the NT Minister for Education released this, which says that the first four hours of education in all NT Schools will be conducted in English.

Obviously this is bad news for any communities who want to maintain or revitalise their own Indigenous language in their own school (before lunch, that is). It is particularly appalling for all those involved in bilingual education - programs that help students engage with their education, including English, by delivering it in their first language (while they are young and haven't learned much English yet). The bilingual programs actually produce better-than-average results in terms of English literacy, especially when they're done well. So does the Minister invest in them further? No. It looks she wants to scrap the whole thing. How ridiculous to think that non-English speakers will learn English purely by immersion. If that was true, anyone who watches Home and Away every day should be fluent English speakers, but it's just not that easy. It helps greatly if someone explains things to you in your own language - especially when you're still learning... especially when you're, like, five.

What a joke.

I'm especially appalled because I firmly believe (as does the United Nations) that Indigenous people, just like anyone, have the right to be educated in their own language, if they choose. How dare the Minister take away this basic right and dictate that only English be spoken for the first four hours of delivery in ALL NT schools.

So yes, I'm appalled and disgusted. I'm drafting a letter to the Minister as are many others. I'll post more about it soon.

October 15, 2008

Indigenous TV back on line ... nearly

When they launched NITV (National Indigenous Television) a lot of people were happy but a loud minority were upset because it coincided with the end of years of ICTV (Indigenous Community Television) which did heaps of remote broadcasting, provided training and employment for community mob and provided heaps of broadcasting in Indigenous Languages. Here's a bit of discussion from last year about ICTV's closure.

So now we have NITV which is alright (the highlight is seeing familiar faces pop up regularly... especially good when it's 80s footage of ppl very close to you... hehehe), but NITV is very low on Indigenous language content, heavy on urban-based stuff and does little for remote Aboriginal Australia especially in terms of training and employment.

The good news is I was sent an email telling me that ICTV is online... or at least the radio part. Fingers crossed and there'll be lots of deadly language video content online soon.

October 10, 2008

Unnecessary death - 7:30 report

Check out this story from last night's 7:30 report. (Thanks Maia for the link). It's about a young guy from Bulman who shot himself while being hunted down by police. I know of most of the people quoted in the report. Reading it made me very sad and angry. Awful stuff like this happens far too much around here. I only heard a bit about this story when it happened so I'm glad it's come to light a little. I really hope we learn to do things better one day. Sorry to the family.