Meeting defends bilingual education

November 20, 2010

Forty people attended a meeting about the Northern Territory government's attack on bilingual education in remote Indigenous communities on November 18. The government has banned teaching in Indigenous languages during the first four hours of the school day.

The meeting began with a phone link to two people from the Yirrkala community, where the local school is defying the ban. They said teaching children in Yolngu language was vital to maintaining culture and producing better academic results.

Rose McKenna, a former principal of Yirrkala school, said bilingual education was a "proven educational methodology" being dismantled by bureaucrats. She said supporters of bilingual education were being driven out of the NT education system.

Melbourne Anti-Intervention Collective member Lucy Honan said the ban on multilingual education was part of a broader attack on Indigenous self-determination.

Australian Education Union state council member Mary Merkenich called on education unions and other trade unions to educate their own members and the broader community about the issue.

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