'Whole of community’ response to improve literacy levels

9 JUNE 2004

By breaking down barriers to educational opportunities, as well as provide close community and educational support for parents, a new program due to commence next month hopes to improve literacy levels among Indigenous children in the East Dubbo area.

By breaking down barriers to educational opportunities, as well as provide close community and educational support for parents, a new program due to commence next month hopes to improve literacy levels among Indigenous children in the East Dubbo area. 

In a model outside the traditional mould, the Charles Sturt University (CSU) initiative will work in close connection with the East Dubbo Indigenous community to provide ongoing reading support tuition for children. 

Federal and State governments have recognised that Indigenous people in Australia are “the most educationally disadvantaged group in the community” in the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission’s National Inquiry into Rural and Remote Education in 2000. Participation rates, attendance and retention rates in the school system are lower for Indigenous students than other students. 

The CSU program seeks to break down the barriers to educational opportunities, by bringing together existing support providers, CSU education students, academics, Indigenous children and their parents. 

From the beginning of school term four, Tuesday 5 October, CSU teacher education students will provide after school reading tuition to Indigenous children at Apollo House, a community centre run by the East Dubbo Women’s Group. 

Program coordinator, CSU School of Teacher Education lecturer Maria Bennet said the program also aims to provide mentor support to parents, who she hopes may eventually assist as volunteers. 

“The program is not tied to any government funding, so we will be able to provide a continuous, consistent program for the children, as well as work closely with Apollo House to break down barriers to educational opportunities for the broader community,” she said. 

Developing literacy levels among the adult community is one of the project goals, reflecting the importance of parents in providing literacy modelling for children. 

Ms Bennet will attend the Apollo House Education Expo on Thursday 9 September, to speak about the program with parents. On the day she will be joined by other educational service providers to speak about opportunities for parents and their children. 

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Bathurst Dubbo Orange Charles Sturt University Teaching and Education Society and Community