Closing the Gap, Post
Closing the Gap
Aboriginal children in remote parts of Australia are well below the national standards in education. Despite the objectives of “closing the gap” between First Peoples and the greater part of the Australian population over many years, we are failing.
Can I say it in a kind way? Can we face the facts together? Speaking from first-hand experience on Aboriginal Communities, much can be done by the families themselves. Children and teenagers are still out late at night. They socialise and visit friends when they should be in bed. Lack of parental control allows children to live without boundaries and routines.
Without rules about bedtime they can’t get up in the morning. The following day they are not in school. They can’t get out of bed. There may not be much food in the house. Their clothes are not ready, and they stay home. If they get to school they are often bare-foot.
When working in remote Australia, I arranged with the Lions Club to drive the school bus on a Saturday morning to pick up my students and take them to Auskick. The condition was that they were in school three days the preceding week. That’s three days, not five.
And ‘sorry business’ can pose a problem for Aboriginal children’s education. Sorry business means a family member has passed on. The family and friends get together for the funeral. This can be a major event and can involve a lot of travel. But on the way back, they stop at this or that Community for a football match. They stop at another Community to visit friends. And so it goes on. By the time the children get back from the funeral, they have lost two weeks of school, sometimes three. In three months time, there is another ‘sorry business’.
It’s time for Aboriginal people themselves to make their children’s education a top priority. Not all deficits in education can be resolved with money. Parents of Aboriginal children can do more to support their children to get to school.