To his credit then Senator Nick Xenophon introduced me to various federal government ministers where I tried to sell this idea, amongst others. It is gratifying to see reported in the Australian Yesterday the "Teach for Australia Program" where graduates can do a five week intense course and go straight to a designated scheme school and receive award wages as teachers. https://www.teachforaustralia.org/join-tfa/ldp/about-the-program/
This is in addition to the incentive scheme recently announced by Aboriginal Minister Nigel Scullion to forgive HECS debts to newly qualified teachers who will accept remote school postings.
Five years since planting the seeds at the highest level of Federal Government. But slowly slowly catchee monkey.
Note E 2 .Tertiary Tutor Program.
Embryo of an idea to get education to small communities.
The Prime Minister would not be talking about “closing the gap” in terms of school education for Aboriginal Children if the past and current methods had worked.
“Tertiary Tutors” does not rely on any critical analysis of the past or present systems but takes it as a given that in places they have simply not worked. Remote and fringe dwelling Aboriginal children are simply not in the education “system” in significant way.
Leave aside the perfectly good education that they may be getting in their own language, culture, bush skills and so on. Make the assumption that 2014 government wants Aboriginal kids to get a start on the path to Australian/European based education that may lead to main stream involvement with the other 97% of our population.
Throughout the world it is recognized that sometimes and in some places intruding a state of the art system is both too expensive and not needed to meet realistic goals. For instance medical aid in remote areas of the world is often best delivered more or less forthwith by basic training of deliverers of hygiene and health care because that can occur in the here and now rather than waiting forever for the resources to train and insert fully qualified doctors.
Aboriginal children who are not attending school would be better off with a new approach. Specially so in places where educationally they cannot be worse off!
It is unrealistic to believe that in small communities that are hours by bush road from even a central community, or who are in communities where it simply does not matter to them that they don’t attend euro-school will suddenly be motivated, by stick or carrot, to change that point of view. In any case it will be too late for too many.
Why not try the Tertiary Tutors?
Targeted at Primary and Pre-Primary School kids, it is not rocket science to teach the basics that may lead to some continuity. Where young children are getting next to no education, an educated Tutor who is “One Chapter Ahead” in the appropriate texts will be enough.
We cannot wait until there is funding to put a fully qualified teacher into every small group of twenty or so children of mixed ages. There is no reasonable possibility of having a kindergarten, and infant and primary school teacher being permanently stationed in each of these places. There are not enough willing qualified teachers, there is not enough money and the children won’t travel. So.
Let every university degree holder in Australia, specially new graduates with high HECS debts do an 80 hour, free, short course, which identifies the basic primary and pre-primary texts. Provide a support network, checklists and so on. Pay them a basic wage but deduct as much again from their HECSs debt. Introduce them to the communities, attach them to the closest formal school or school of the air, and provide them with basic amenities and accommodation.
This idea was recently (March 2014) “run past” a group of 10 Country NSW Tertiary students who were near completion of their degrees. About half said they would be interested – Mainly they thought Tutors should not be alone but in groups of at least two.
There will be Criticisms :
- A second rate scheme which does not provide fully qualified experienced teachers for Aboriginal children and treats them as second class citizens.
- It’s an attack on the salaries and wages structure of qualified teachers and seeks to undermine hard won conditions.
- It won’t work – unqualified people simply can’t deliver education.
- There is no intention to remove all of the experienced teachers and infrastructures that already exist.Tertiary Tutors are to assist and to target the gaps.
- There are simply too few qualified teachers to fill the gaps
- Tertiary Teachers will have completed degrees.They will receive training.Where the current system is failing they cannot do worse.