Page 3612 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 13 September 2017

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But it is not only about the contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Canberrans; it is about celebrating and learning what it means to identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander in our city. Through ACT public schools there is a swathe of programs and initiatives which teach the broader school population about the precious languages and the culture of the nation’s first peoples, as well as programs to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. This support strongly extends to the revitalisation and maintenance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages, in particular Ngunnawal and other local region languages. It is important to understand that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages cannot be taught in isolation. In order for students to have a full and deep understanding, languages need to be taught alongside local culture and knowledge.

ACT schools are promoting the incorporation of Indigenous languages in teaching and learning programs. This includes resources promoting the 2017 NAIDOC Week theme, “Our languages matter”. A new and important initiative in this space centres on the ACT Board of Senior Secondary Studies developing an Indigenous language and culture course. The focus of this course is Indigenous languages and culture of the Canberra region, including Jervis Bay. In addition, the course will examine language and culture outside of the region. Course development will begin next month, and it is envisaged that the course will be accredited and available for delivery in 2019. The Education Directorate has also implemented several programs and projects dedicated to promoting and building teacher capacity to incorporate Indigenous languages.

Earlier this year six schools participated in a pilot program to incorporate a biographical DVD Aunty Agnes: Footprints on Our Land in professional learning and classroom activities. The pilot included several workshops and the development of school-based projects to support learning and teaching activities in ACT public schools. In addition, four primary schools are participating in a curriculum project exploring ways in which to incorporate the Ngunnawal story Mununja the Butterfly into learning activities and programs for upper primary students. Mununja is a bilingual text enabling students to experience a little of the Ngunnawal language and culture.

The directorate has also been working to strengthen the environment of cultural integrity in all ACT public schools, as part of the student resource allocation. Through this initiative approximately 100 students are participating in learning programs using the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages. Concurrently all ACT public schools provide a language program in at least one of the eight priority languages: Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Indonesian, French, German, Italian and Spanish.

Right now, approximately 28,711 Canberra public school students are learning a language. The number has increased from 17,594 students since 2008. In 2017 a total of 17,638 students are studying priority Asian languages. In 2017 a total of 10,832 students are studying priority European languages. Just last year there was an increase of 2,121 students studying a language in Canberra public schools due to the concerted effort of the government and public schools to increase participation rates in language courses. With more than 170 languages spoken in homes and workplaces

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