Australia: Northern Territory language policy condemned

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Mon Nov 24 17:55:13 UTC 2008

NT language policy condemned

Kerry Smith
23 November 2008

Areyonga community members have begun a campaign to defend teaching in
Pitjantjatjara at their local school. The campaign is in response to a
proposal by NT legislative assembly member Marion Scrymgour to force
schools to teach only in English for the first four hours of each day,
leaving only an hour-and-a-half of teaching in Pitjantjatjara. "I am
sick of watching 17 and 18-year-olds coming out of our system and they
can't read English", Scrymgour told ABC Online on November 18.
Education minister Julia Gillard has said she supports the proposal.

A petition by members of the Areyonga community states: "Our kids do
not understand much English when they start school. If we teach them
only in English, they will not understand. They will miss out on
learning the important things they need to learn in the first few
years of school." "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", the Areyonga school principal Tarna Andrews said on November 16.

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