Bi-cultural Education

A bright future

In remote areas of the Northern Territory, receiving an education can be a real challenge. Many Indigenous communities across Arnhem Land are too small to qualify for government public school funding, and there can be barriers to bi-cultural or bilingual learning. These factors can make it difficult for rangers and their family to live on, and care for their Country.

The key to successful education in Arnhem Land, is ensuring it is delivered in a way that is locally and culturally relevant. By promoting strong culture and the transfer of local land management knowledge, students can be encouraged to attend school more regularly and be better prepared to transition into ranger traineeships or other employment pathways when they complete school.

At the request of local Indigenous elders and community members, Warddeken, in partnership with KKT, assisted the community of Kabulwarnamyo to establish a remote, bi-cultural school, called the Nawarddeken Academy. The community opened this school to keep the families of rangers together on Country and ensure children learn Bininj (Indigenous) knowledge, alongside mainstream education.

The Nawarddeken Academy has been operating since 2015 and is an important piece of social infrastructure for Kabulwarnamyo. Every Thursday, the students pack the school Toyota troop carriers and head out for ‘learning on Country’ during which adult community members fulfil the vital role of delivering the bilingual and cultural components of the Academy’s curriculum. Education is delivered by qualified teachers together with Indigenous teaching assistants, who provide cultural and language support.

Mimal's Learning on Country program involves school aged children spending time on country with elders and rangers, learning about Indigenous Land Management and cultural heritage, and bringing those learnings back into the classroom. Establishing such a program at Bulman would fulfil community aspirations (expressed in Mimal’s Healthy Country Plan) for a two-way education system that supports students to learn Indigenous knowledge with mainstream education.

      

Together we share the hope that the ongoing success of the school will provide a template for the improvement of remote indigenous education across the region and beyond.