Improving school attendance in remote Aboriginal communities is a key target of both the Commonwealth and Territory governments.
The Commonwealth Government has introduced disincentives on Aboriginal parents living in remote communities who do not ensure that their children atend school on a regular basis. Also, the Northern Territory Department of Community Service's Homelands Extra Allowance is only payable if, among other things, school-age children regularly attend school. However creative solutions, rather than a big-stick approach is what's needed on Alyawarr land.
As reported in The Australian in November 2008, there have been some extraordinary educational outcomes at Canteen Creek. To view the article, click here. Canteen Creek School has students from preschool to Year 12. It lifted its enrolment from 41 in 2005 to a peak of 123. Seventy-five per cent of those enrolled attend school regularly.
Canteen Creek has come up with its own solution to improving edcuational outcomes. If children miss school, they must catch up after hours, and kids are not allowed on school trips unless they have completed their homework. Senior students are paid $15 an hour to organise after-school sports and other activities.
The education system also needs to prepare our kids for living in a remote area. Consistent with Article 28 of ILO 169 they should have the opportunity to attain fluency in both Alyawarr and English.
To promote access to, and the delivery of education, we are seeking the extension of the National Broadband Network onto Alyawarr lands. We believe that this and other technologies can be used to make education materials more interesting for our young people. It may also be used by us to help educate others.