Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Effectiveness of Indigenous Education Policy

The last session of the ANU Educational Research Conference at the Australian National University was by researchers from the ANU Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research. The issues of what research evidence there is to say if indigenous education policy is actually effective is of great relevance to public policy making in Australia. This is also relevant to ICT, as one proposal for education is to use computers and the Internet: will this be as effective, or perhaps more effective, for indigenous communities?

One positive example presed was the "Djelk Rangers":
This report is the result of a ten-day general conceptualisation research trip in May 2003 into an Indigenous community to study the Djelk Ranger program operating under the Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation (BAC). During this visit I spent time with several different groups of Rangers and visited several sustainable wildlife harvesting sites which are described here.

The Djelk Ranger program established by the BAC is built on the extensive knowledge and skills that already exist within this Indigenous community. The success of the ventures mentioned in this report is built on a unique blend of formal legal institutional mechanisms and customary law and socio-cultural conventions.

Cooperative community-based wildlife resource management and aquaculture has the potential to deliver sustainable and cost effective development benefits for Indigenous landowners. Greater recognition of the valuable land management and biodiversity conservation roles undertaken by Indigenous people in these circumstances would seem appropriate, and it would be desirable for these roles to be reflected in more formal and sustained income arrangements than the current CDEP project funding. The opportunities for economic development in Indigenous communities, and some of the challenges that these communities face are demonstrated in the Djelk Ranger program initiative.

The BAC is an impressive institution for its commitment to learning, communication, cultural integration, and economic development. There is clearly a need for such adaptive and flexible institutions to provide a bridge between cultures and protect the interests of remote Indigenous communities. ...

From: The Djelk Ranger Program: an outsider’s perspective, Cochrane, M, 2006
There is a summary of previous government policies in "The Road Forward? Alternative Assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Students at the Tertiary Level" (Peter Christensen and Ian Lilley, 1997).

I was on the periphery of some of the developments with education and indigenous education, as an ICT professional in the federal Education Department, where the amounts of money being handed out were so large they were too big for the accounting software to handle. This changed to a system where the money went via state governments.

The report on Protection of Aboriginal Children from Sexual Abuse was released by the Northern Territory Government 15 June 2007. The Australian Government has responded by proposing to take control of Aboriginal communities in the NT, restricting welfare payments and brining in outside police and welfare workers. This ran counter to the reports recommendations. My suggestion was to use the Internet and the web can be used to empower the local communities and address some of the issues.

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