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Historic agreement to support Aboriginal education.

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News: Historic agreement to support Aboriginal education

Hon JANE LOMAX-SMITH MP Minister for Education & Children's Services Minister for Tourism Minister for the City of Adelaide

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April 13, 2007

South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory have struck an historic agreement today to better manage the attendance of Aboriginal students at remote schools.

At a meeting of Education Ministers in Darwin today, the Ministers of each jurisdiction agreed to share the enrolment details of Aboriginal students across State borders.

The agreement comes as the number of Aboriginal children attending preschool and the number of Aboriginal students achieving the SACE reach an all-time high in South Australia.

South Australian Education Minister Jane Lomax-Smith says the cross-border agreement will help to address the significant issue of student absenteeism from schools in the Aboriginal homelands.

“The Aboriginal population in these areas is extremely mobile and families often move between communities in South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory,” she says.

“Children can be attending a school in South Australia’s APY Lands one week and a school across the border in the Northern Territory the next week.

“Our main concern is that children are in school and learning, and this new agreement will allow us to track the movements of Aboriginal families to make sure that is happening.

“Following on from today’s agreement, we will be establishing a process to share enrolment information across the State borders in these areas for the first time.”

Dr Lomax-Smith says there has been a concerted effort in South Australia to lift the achievements and progress through school of the State’s Aboriginal children.

“In 2005, I announced a new blueprint with clear five-year targets to improve the retention, attendance and literacy skills of Aboriginal children in State schools and preschools.

“We have backed up these goals with targeted funding as part of our $35m Early Years Literacy Program and $28.4m School Retention Action Plan.

“There has also been additional funds in recent budgets to support students with additional needs in our schools, and that includes Aboriginal students.

“I am pleased to report that more Aboriginal students than ever before achieved their SACE in 2006 - more than 100 compared to 81 in 2005. Three Aboriginal students received a merit.

“On top of that, last year we had record attendances of Aboriginal three and four year-olds at preschool, with 1156 enrolments compared to 1033 the previous year, giving more Aboriginal children the best possible start to their education.”