The extensive failure of Indigenous students in school, particularly during adolescence, is a shameful characteristic of Australian education. Students who have most to gain from a successful school experience are the most likely to leave school with minimal skills and qualifications. The situation has shown little improvement over 30 years, as evidenced by the repetitious nature of articles in, for example, The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education. Government inquiries into Indigenous education, especially those addressing issues such as attendance (Bourke, Rigby & Burden, 2000), identity (Purdy, Tripcony, Boulton-Lewis, Fanshawe & Gunstone, 2000) and achievement (Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs, 2000a, 2000b; Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs, 2000b) have resulted in little improvement. The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Policy (Department of Employment, Education and Training, 1989) identified goals for Indigenous students but, despite considerable effort to achieve these goals, educational inequality for Indigenous students ‘remains vast’ (Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs, 2000b). While a growing number of Indigenous students are successful at school, a significant proportion leave school before completing Year 10, and far fewer complete Year 12 than is the case with non-Indigenous students (Department of Education Western Australia, 2002; Ministerial Council on Education Employment Training and Youth Affairs, 2000a). A cycle develops, by which the poor educational standards of Indigenous students exiting from school results in the inability to supply, from their ranks, the teachers and other professionals needed to provide culturally-appropriate role models in the classroom.
Why Indigenous Issues are an Essential Component of Teacher Education Programs.
Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 27(2).