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Education failing indigenous Australians.

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DEMOCRATS MEDIA 04/977 TUESDAY 28 SEPTEMBER 2004 SENATOR LYN ALLISON DAVID CURTIS AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRATS SCHOOLS SPOKESPERSON DEMOCRATS CANDIDATE FOR LINGIARI EDUCATION FAILING INDIGENOUS AUSTRALIANS Characterised by poor attendance rates, below average literacy and numeracy results and few University graduates, education is failing Indigenous Australians, say the Australian Democrats. Senator Lyn Allison, Democrats schools spokesperson launching the Democrats Indigenous Education strategy in Darwin today said improving education was vital to improving the life opportunities of Indigenous Australians. "The retention rates for Year 12 students is as little as 38% while attendance at primary school has dropped to as low as 75% and 69% at secondary school," Senator Allison said. "In some remote areas, only one in eight children pass Year 3 literacy and numeracy tests and in 2002 only 1026 Indigenous students completed university degree courses. "We believe secondary education should be available to all young people, regardless of how remote the community and how poor the attendance rate. Education must also be relevant and engaging for Indigenous young people. Successful programs respect and include Indigenous culture and world views in the education system." David Curtis, Democrats candidate for Lingiari said there are also deficiencies in cultural training for teachers of Indigenous students and a lack of funding and career support for Indigenous teachers. "4.5% of students are Indigenous, but only 0.8% of school teachers are Indigenous," Mr Curtis said. "Indigenous students need to progress to teacher training courses in order to provide culturally specific schooling. And, recognising that Indigenous education problems will not be solved by improving schooling services alone, we also call on governments to address other poverty factors such as health, housing, family violence and employment opportunities," Mr Curtis said. Democrats action agenda on Indigenous education: - Reform the schooling system to make it more culturally and educationally appealing to Indigenous students including Indigenous languages and history for all students; - Indigenous involvement in decision making for curriculum at all levels; - Indigenous language centres to assist in preserving, recording and teaching languages; - HECS free university teaching places to guarantee proportionate numbers of Indigenous teachers by 2010; - Develop and implement strategies to increase indigenous staff recruitment in universities; - Provide 50 APA scholarships per year for Indigenous post-graduate students; and - Examine ways to overcome the Community Development & Employment Program (CDEP) incentive that results in many 15-year-old students leaving school to access CDEP payments. Media Contact - Katrina McGrath - 0408 056 167