Australia: Class language limit 'death of our culture': Aboriginal school head

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Sun Nov 16 17:54:53 UTC 2008

Class language limit 'death of our culture': Aboriginal school head
Posted Sun Nov 16, 2008 11:31am AEDT

Map: Darwin 0800

 The head of a remote Aboriginal school in the Northern Territory says
the Government's plan to limit the hours classes can be taught in
traditional languages will not help students achieve better results
and could lead to the death of their culture. Under the plan,
bilingual schools will teach the first four classroom hours of each
day in English from next year. The Areyonga School's principal, Tarna
Andrews, says English is a second or third language for many of the 42
children who are enrolled there.

She says the new policy spells the end of a focus on traditional
Pitjantjatjara language and the associated culture. "I want to keep my
language going in the school, the kids' language - we want to keep the
kids in two ways not only one way," she said. "It will die, the
language will die. The school is a place where the kids learn proper
language. "If we speak only English to the kids, to the younger ones,
they won't understand.

"So we need to talk our own language to the kids and then we can do
English work, then they can do it easily." Members of the community
have written to the Territory government with their concerns about the
changes. Education Minister Marion Scrymgour was unavailable for an
interview.  In a statement she said she was happy to meet with the
community to discuss their concerns.
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