Page 1315 - Week 04 - Thursday, 10 April 2008

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the learning gap between Indigenous students and non-Indigenous students. That is why this government is investing an extra $3.3 million specifically to improve Indigenous education outcomes. That is why in 2007 we saw continued implementation of a number of budget initiatives, which included the Koori preschool program operating across five sites across the city and targeted support to year 4 Indigenous students who were in the lowest 20 per cent in the year 3 ACTAP results.

Mr Speaker, 2007 also saw the number of Indigenous students enrolled in preschool education increase from 79 students to 102. The year saw the introduction of a new model placing Indigenous home school liaison officers in high schools and supporting all schools in one or more clusters. During the year schools also provided more opportunities to engage families of students by conducting events to recognise National Reconciliation Week and NAIDOC Week at the local level.

The report released by the Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs in 2006 provided systemic recommendations that seek to accelerate the pace of change by engaging Indigenous children and young people in their learning. As the report I am presenting today shows, the ACT government’s Koori preschool program has provided greater opportunities for Indigenous children and their families to participate in early childhood learning and development programs. Teachers and support staff in the Koori preschool programs contributed to the development of Indigenous perspectives for some of the essential learning achievements that are in the new ACT curriculum framework. With the implementation of the new framework, schools are now better able to provide a curriculum that is more culturally aware and that provides Indigenous and non-Indigenous students with opportunities to learn more about the culture and history of the first Australians.

In the progress report for 2007, I reported that the department was continuing to explore different ways to deliver support to Indigenous students in year 4, as well as to their teachers, to build on those improvements already achieved. This program will be extended in 2008 to provide support to Indigenous students from kindergarten to year 4.

I am pleased to report that there have been other achievements in other areas of education and training. The number of Indigenous students who completed year 12 with a tertiary entrance score in 2007 exceeded the number for 2005 and 2006. Five of these students achieved a universities admission index of above 65. Additionally, the number of Indigenous people participating in training courses, particularly at certificate III level and above, has also increased over what was reported for previous years.

Due to the commitment of the ACT government to improving outcomes for Indigenous students, the ACT is a leader in Indigenous education. However, as I indicated earlier, the challenge for us is to eliminate the gap between the outcomes for Indigenous and non-Indigenous students at all levels of their education. That is why we are providing ongoing support for literacy and numeracy in the early years of schooling as part of our strategy to address the flagging outcomes experienced in the latter years of schooling by a number of Indigenous students.

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