Thursday, 26 January 2012

Australia: Improving Aboriginal School Attendance

Northern Territories: The town of Gunbalanya has schools trialling a new system of school terms to help improve their students’ attendance rates. The reality of Aboriginal Student attendance sees barely over 50 percent of Aboriginal Students attend schools over the last two years.

Traditionally attendance is high at the start and end of the school year. This is due to the heavy rainfall which prevents students travelling. The low attendance rates coincide with the dry season during which the students are undertaking cultural activities and meeting families and elders. The government is taking this into consideration and has decided to trial starting school three weeks earlier in the Aboriginal Community of Arnhem Land. The students will instead receive holiday during the dry season when they can use the time to attend the cultural events.

The move by the government is to be welcomed. By providing a school year which is sensitive to the deep seated cultural traditions of the Aboriginal Students this will help improve the possibility of greater attendance rates. Whilst simply changing the school year alone is not enough to help improve achievement rates, it is one of a number of steps which should be welcomed and embraced as an improvement to the serious situation of failing academic achievement by a large number of Aboriginal students. Spectators can only be hopeful that this trial improves attendance from the pitifully poor rate and helps to improve prospects for the Community and next generation of Arnhem’s young people.

Source ABC.

Written by James Roffee

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