An independent evaluation of the Learning on Country Programme has found it is helping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to maintain a strong sense of cultural identity while improving remote school attendance.
Delivered in four Arnhem Land centres – Maningrida, Yirrkala, Laynhapuy Homelands (Yirrkala), and Galiwin’ku (Elcho Island) – the programme is designed to make school more relevant for remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students by supporting culture and identity whilst improving education outcomes.
Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Senator Nigel Scullion, said the early findings demonstrated the programme’s success in the Yolgnu region.
“The Learning on Country programme brings Indigenous knowledge and customary practice into the school curriculum. Teachers and principals in the four communities report that the programme has led to the transfer of traditional knowledge and had a positive impact on school attendance for some students,” Minister Scullion said.
An important component of the programme is building local engagement between the school, employers and the local community.
“Community members are heavily involved in the activities, delivering sessions designed to share local traditional culture and knowledge as well as participating in excursions outside of the classroom and back on country. This helps children to connect, and stay connected, to their traditional culture throughout their education,” Minister Scullion said.
“The benefits of innovative local solutions such as this are endless. Not only have we seen an improvement in school attendance and engagement, but we’ve also seen positive results in pathways to employment, with 14 students transitioning from school to work after participating in the programme.”
The evaluation was conducted by two Australian National University research centres: the National Centre for Indigenous Studies and the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, with the final report available on the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet website.
Download media release:
2015-11-13 MR – SCULLION – Learning on Country.pdf