It is little wonder that the provision of education is raised with Minister Macklin as a key issue by community leaders and parents during consultations over the future of the NT intervention, said Senator Scullion today.
“Education is universally accepted as a critical component of addressing Indigenous disadvantage. Unfortunately education is still treated as an option and not a necessity by the NT Labor government, said Senator Scullion.
The NT Education budget handed down on 3 May 2011 exposes the level of neglect of remote Indigenous education.
P101 of budget paper No3 lists key deliverable targets for primary school students. The budgeted target for Indigenous students attending school for 80% of classes is stated as a disgraceful 34%. The same target for non-Indigenous students is 98%.
The target for Indigenous students achieving the minimum standard in reading and writing at year 5 level, the age approaching graduation from primary school, is 36% and 33% respectively. The targets for non-Indigenous students of the same age are 88% and 89%.
“How can it be acceptable that the NT government can consider reaching their educational targets when it is expected that two thirds of Indigenous students will not attend school in the first place and a further two thirds of the kids in primary school will leave with poor or unsatisfactory reading and writing skills?, asks Senator Scullion.
“We will never close the gap if governments continue to budget for or consider as acceptable for the gap to exist. Government should set a target for all students and then continually work to achieving it.
“These sorts of so called acceptable targets only serve to let down yet another generation of kids who will not have the basic skills to enjoy the opportunities taken for granted by all other Australians.
“Minister Macklin also claimed in an ABC TV interview on 15 Jul 2011 that education was never part of the Intervention anyway, said Senator Scullion.
Minister Macklin made that extraordinary statement despite going on to explain that there’s been a lot of money going towards teachers as part of the Northern Territory Emergency Response.
“Funding was immediately provided through the intervention to improve educational outcomes by funding teachers, breakfast and lunch programs and to support greater Indigenous parental involvement in schools. Ref DEST PORTFOLIO SUPPLEMENTARY ESTIMATES STATEMENTS 2007-08
“Labor built upon this initial action with funding to recruit, support and accommodate an additional 200 teachers in the NT.
“For the minister to now state that education was never part of the Intervention is rewriting history at best or at worst, a blatant attempt to cover up the Labor government failure at both the Federal and NT Level to provide a quality education for Indigenous students,” said Senator Scullion.
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110728 Macklin Tries to Hide Government Failure on NT Indigenous Education.pdf