A Homeland Education Journey
Over recent years a lot of attention has been given to education for First Nations students living in remote communities. The quest for improved outcomes, better attendance, retention and year 12 completions disguises other perhaps more important issues. During the 1970s and 1980s the homeland movement 'return to Country' created opportunities for many First Nations people to achieve a degree of self-determination. But schooling for homelands was treated differently to schooling in communities. People had to put a request to the Department of Education for a school in their homelands, and mostly homelands were offered a visiting teacher for two to three days per week. Local First Nations staff, as untrained 'assistant teachers' were expected to ensure that students completed their work in the teacher's absence. Some training was offered through the Remote Area Teacher Education program. In 1990 there were 271 people enrolled in Diploma of Teaching courses, with the majority in Stage 1 . Homeland learning centre programs were prioritised. By 1992 the concept and language of RATE had all but disappeared in the discourse of Batchelor College documents, replaced with a greater emphasis on more mainstream higher education programs. While there is strong agreement that homeland centres need local teachers, achieving that goal is not so easy. Journal Editor, John Guenther talked with Michelle Bangarr at Manmoyi in late 2021 about her experiences of education. Michelle tells the story of her journey in education, from her homeland perspective.
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