Wednesday, October 24, 2012

the Territory's new Indigenous politicians made impassioned maiden speeches on the first day of the new parliament

Anderson calls for schools to be made equal

Indigenous Advancement Minister Alison Anderson says Aboriginal languages should not be taught at remote Northern Territory schools.

She says Indigenous schools should have the same learning requirements as those in capital cities.

Ms Anderson has told told the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly that Indigenous languages should be taught by parents during holidays and on weekends.

The call contradicts a commitment by Education Minister Robyn Lambley that a Country Liberals government would fund bilingual education in remote schools.

Ms Anderson says Indigenous children should be taught in the same way as students in Sydney if they are to compete for the same jobs.

"I am not suggesting we abandon our traditional culture or language but teaching them should not be done in schools, it should be done after school and on weekends, and during the holidays," she said.

"That is when other cultures in Australia teach their children traditional ways."

Ms Anderson says local schools must form the centres of remote Aboriginal communities.

"Let me describe how a remote community of the future might look," she said.

"At its heart would be a proper school, just like a small version of a school in Darwin or Sydney.

"There would be at least one full-time teacher, with a university degree and five years experience.

"We would attract those teachers by paying them well.

"We need education to set us free, free of dependence, unemployment, free of welfare and victimhood.

"Education has set billions of human beings free.

"It can do the same for us.

"My dream is that we should get real and, for the first time since Europeans came to this land, Indigenous people should be thought of and treated just like everyone else."

Meanwhile, the Territory's new Indigenous politicians made impassioned maiden speeches on the first day of the new parliament.

The Member for Arnhem, Larissa Lee, raised an issue few previous conservative politicians have backed.

"The Australian government never fulfilled the request for a treaty that was called for by our leaders," she said.

"We must never forget what they fought for."

The Member for Arafura, Francis Xavier, lamented the state of indigenous education.

"Many young Aboriginal people cannot read and write," he said.

"Why is this allowed?"

The Member for Stuart, Bess Price, defended free debate of Indigenous policy.

"I am tired of the racist notion that we Aboriginal people can't speak for ourselves and, when we do, should all speak the same like a bunch of brainless robots.

She said Indigenous people should be able to disagree without trading accusations of racism.

Ms Price also said English language skills are vital for Indigenous people in a modern world.

"We should keep our languages and those parts of our cultures that still work for us, but that should not stop us from making sure that our children get the best possible education," she said.

"They must learn English, as I have, they must learn to use mathematics and all the other knowledge that the rest of the World uses to understand the World and to prosper."

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