NT language policy condemned

Issue 

Areyonga community members have begun a campaign to defend teaching in Pitjantjatjara at their local school.

The campaign is in response to a proposal by NT legislative assembly member Marion Scrymgour to force schools to teach only in English for the first four hours of each day, leaving only an hour-and-a-half of teaching in Pitjantjatjara.

"I am sick of watching 17 and 18-year-olds coming out of our system and they can't read English", Scrymgour told ABC Online on November 18.

Education minister Julia Gillard has said she supports the proposal.

A petition by members of the Areyonga community states: "Our kids do not understand much English when they start school. If we teach them only in English, they will not understand. They will miss out on learning the important things they need to learn in the first few years of school."

"I want to keep my language going in the school, the kids' language — we want to keep the kids in two ways not only one way", the Areyonga school principal Tarna Andrews said on November 16.N

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